Spain send Portugal packing
In-form Villa ensures European champions march on
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: 30/06/10 12:07pm
Villa: Converts match-winner
David Villa's 63rd-minute strike gave Spain a 1-0 win over Portugal and sent the European champions into the World Cup quarter-finals.
Portugal were the only team left in the competition yet to concede a goal and were frustrating Spain in the much-anticipated second-round showdown between the Iberian neighbours.
But two substitutions just before the hour mark proved decisive, with Portugal losing their way after Hugo Almeida was hauled off for Danny while Spain burst into life after Fernando Llorente replaced a below-par Fernando Torres.
Within a minute, Llorente's point-blank header was saved by Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo while Villa fired wide.
Villa then broke the deadlock as he stabbed the ball past Eduardo at the second attempt for his fourth goal of the World Cup.
Spain could have made victory more emphatic but they were worthy winners against a Portugal side in which Cristiano Ronaldo was hugely disappointing.
But the victory was marred as Joan Capdevila went down holding his face in the 89th minute and Portugal defender Ricdaro Costa was shown a straight red card despite it not being clear how much contact there was between the players.
Vicente del Bosque's men will now face Paraguay in Johannesburg on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals.
Bright Spain start
Spain began brightly exactly two years to the day of their Euro 2008 final victory over Germany in Zurich.
Torres scored the game's only goal that evening and tested Eduardo after just a minute while Villa also forced decent saves from the Braga keeper with two early strikes.
Another Torres shot from a short corner was not too far over the bar but for all Spain's dominance, he and Villa were largely restricted to playing out wide.
Portugal replied in the 20th minute as midfielder Tiago tried his luck from the edge of the box and after Iker Casillas could only push it high into the air, the Spain keeper scrambled it away near his own goal-line.
Xavi and Villa tried their luck at the other end before Spain team-mate Xabi Alonso saw a couple of long-range attempts stifled.
Portugal enjoyed the best chance yet in the 39th minute when Almeida glanced a close-range header wide from Raul Meireles' cross, much to the disappointment of a better-placed Ronaldo behind him.
Casillas then had to race out to halt Simao's run at goal before Tiago headed over as Portugal finished the first half on top.
Seven minutes after the restart, Spain defender Gerard Pique was outpaced by Almeida down the left and when the Werder Bremen striker's attempted cross deflected off Carles Puyol's thigh, the defender was relieved to see the ball go narrowly wide.
That was the closest Portugal would go, though, as they lacked shape after Danny came on for Almeida and threatened little.
Del Bosque sacrificed Torres for Llorente, meanwhile, and the Athletic Bilbao target-man made an immediate impact as his diving header from Sergio Ramos' cross was parried to safety by Eduardo, before Villa curled one just wide.
And the breakthrough came moments later after typically intricate build-up play from Spain.
Andres Iniesta fed Xavi just inside the box and his Barcelona team-mate flicked the ball on for the on-rushing Villa, who saw his first shot saved before reacting quickest to direct the rebound in off the bar.
Eduardo then got down brilliantly to turn away Ramos' low drive from the right before Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz sent on striker Liedson and midfielder Pedro Mendes.
Yet they still could not get Ronaldo into the game and Eduardo was again called upon to parry a Villa shot.
Llorente twice went close late on while Danny had a dangerous-looking shot blocked by Pique but moments later Portugal's hopes were over when referee Hector Baldassi gave Costa his marching orders for apparently lashing out at Capdevila.
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