[SPAIN-PARAGUAY] Spain reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time, but it wasn't easy. It needed a goal from David Villa -- his tournament-high fifth -- in the 83rd minute to beat upstart Paraguay, 1-0.
What we liked ...
-- Villa scored in his fourth straight game -- all wins -- completing a play that began with some beautiful combination play in midfield: Andres Iniesta to Cesc Fabregas to Xavi with a back heel to Iniesta, who broke through the heart of the staunch Paraguayan defense and fed Pedro, who struck the ball off goalie Justo Villar's right post. Villa picked up the rebound and his shot hit Villar's left post and then off the right before rolling into the goal.
-- Goalie Iker Casillas saved the day for Spain. He not only stopped Oscar Cardozo's penalty kick to keep the score 0-0 but he made a double save late in the game, stopping a shot by Lucas Barrios before punching away Roque Santa Cruz’s shot from the rebound.
(Casillas said backup goalie Pepe Reina tipped him off that Cardozo would shot to his left. Cardozo twice beat Reina to Reina's left during Benfica's 2-1 win over Liverpool last season.)
What we didn't like ...
-- Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres -- familiar to American fans for his work in Concacaf -- and his crew had their hands full in an incident-filled match. Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino complained Nelson Valdez's first-half goal was unfairly called off for offside. On the second penalty, the Spaniards complained that Antolin Alcaraz should have been given a red card instead of yellow for hauling down Villa.
On Xabi Alonso's first attempt, Batres called off the goal for encroachment -- in what appeared to be a makeup call. Several Spaniards moved into the area early, but at least two Spaniards, Sergio Ramos and Fabregas, had also been in the area early on Cardozo's attempt. After Villar stopped Xabi Alonso's second attempt, he appeared to take down Fabregas for a penalty before Sergio Ramos' shot was cleared off the line.
-- Martino, who claimed he was expecting an apology from FIFA for the decisions that went against the Albirroja in the game, had only his team's anemic attack to blame for its ouster. Paraguay didn't score in its last three games and finished with only three goals in five games.