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The Cup Running Over


July 3, 2010 4:20 PM

Instant Quarterfinal Review: Spain Wears Down Paraguay and Reaches First Semifinal in Modern Era

SCORE: Spain 1, Paraguay 0

THE STORY LINE: Super-scorer David Villa saves Spain's tapas again with less than ten minutes left, after yet another tortured team performance. When the going gets tough, the European sides take over.

TURNING POINT: The two missed penalties in the second half injected some excitement into a game which had lacked it so far. And from that point on, Paraguay seemed to tire -- though it could have been a coincidence.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Besides Villa? Justo Villar and Iker Casillas -- the two keepers who both saved penalty kicks in an intense two minutes of the second half.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Through 65 minutes, Paraguay had more shots on goal than Spain (2-1). And the play of the teams roughly reflected that, even though Spain dominated possession.

BIGGEST NO-SHOW: The Paraguayan offense, "led" by Roque Santa Cruz who, according to the Guardian, went into the game having gone 799 minutes without scoring for his national team and missed a great chance with two minutes left. Of course.

KEY STAT: There were six changes for Paraguay from the team that beat Japan last game. That's believed to be a World Cup record in the knockout round. And we'll go with another: It was the first time since 1930 that two penalty kicks were saved during the game. 

WHAT IT MEANS:
  A dream semi between Spain and Germany -- a replay of the 2008 Euro final. The winner will be the favorite against the winner of Netherlands-Uruguay.

IF THE GAME WERE A ROLLING STONES SONG IT WOULD BE: Emotional Rescue 

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