[SPAIN-PORTUGAL] Pre-tournament favorite Spain booked a quarterfinal date with Paraguay by beating Portugal, 1-0, with a goal from David Villa, his fourth of the tournament. The scoreline didn’t reflect Spain's dominance.
What we liked …
-- Never has a team won the World Cup after losing its opening game, but Spain has now reeled off three straight wins after falling, 1-0, to Switzerland. In its 1-0 round-of-16 win over Iberian rival Portugal, Spain had 61 percent of the possession according to FIFA stats and outshot the Portuguese 19-9, with a 10-3 edge in shots on goal.
-- While Spain forward Fernando Torres continues to look a step slow as he recovers from his April knee surgery – he did test goalkeeper Eduardo in the first minute – David Villa remains red hot, scoring his fourth goal of the tournament after finishing his own rebound following a sequence of the fine, quick passing for which Spain is renowned. Xavi made the final pass by relaying with a back-heel a ball from Andres Iniesta. Torres was replaced in the 58th minute by lanky Fernando Llorente, who on his first touch sent a diving header into Eduardo's arms and narrowly missed on a header in the 89th minute. It was Llorente's World Cup debut and another sign of Spain's attacking depth.
-- Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque promises his team won’t underestimate quarterfinal debutant Paraguay, which has gone five hours and 27 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal (since a 1-1 tie with Italy in the Group F opener). Del Bosque, of course, is aware of the Spain quarterfinal jinx: It has failed to reach the final four in its last 10 World Cup appearances.
What we didn’t like …
-- Portugal went scoreless in three of its four games at this World Cup. Besides the loss to Spain, Portugal had 0-0 ties with Ivory Coast and Brazil. One would think that should eliminate cautious Coach Carlos Queiroz, whom U.S. Soccer had considered in the past, from the list of U.S. head coach candidates.
-- Although no doubt one of the world’s greatest players, Cristiano Ronaldo failed to inspire his national team the way he did Manchester United during his six seasons when he won three English Premier League titles and the Champions League crown before joining Real Madrid on a $132 million transfer in 2009. Ronaldo, who scored 26 goals in 29 for Real Madrid last season, is only 25, so he should have another chance to deliver for his country at a World Cup.