Spain spent most of the match trying to break through Portugal’s defense. David Villa finally did it.
Villa scored off his own rebound in the 63rd minute Tuesday in Cape Town, South Africa, giving the European champs a 1-0 victory that put them into the World Cup quarterfinals.
While Spain dominated possession and outshot the Portuguese, it needed a big play from Villa. He took Xavi Hernandez’s heel pass and struck a left-footed shot that was saved by Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo.
Villa then fired the rebound with his right foot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net — his fourth goal of the tournament — sprinted to a corner and slid on his knees while letting out a mighty yell.
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“It was one of my best goals because it got us through to the next round,” Villa said. “Keep scoring so we can keep going.”
Spain plays Paraguay in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Villa is tied for the scoring lead at the World Cup, but it was a disappointing tournament for Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player. His only goal came late in Portugal’s 7-0 rout of North Korea in group play.
The game came two years to the day after Spain ended 44 years of international futility by winning the European title. The last defending European champ to also capture the World Cup was West Germany in 1974.
Paraguay 0, Japan 0 (Paraguay wins, 5-3, in penalty kicks): After 120 exhausting minutes without scoring, the Paraguayans found their touch in penalty kicks, making all five to beat Japan in Pretoria.
Oscar Cardozo clinched the 5-3 shootout win after a 0-0 draw with a low, left-footed drive past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. The only miss in the shootout was by Japan defender Yuichi Komano on the third try when he hit the crossbar. That made the difference.
The Paraguayans are the fourth South American team into the final eight; only Chile fell short, and it lost to Brazil in the second round.
When Cardozo easily beat Kawashima to end the exhausting match and nerve-racking shootout, his teammates stormed onto the field in celebration of the nation’s biggest World Cup win. Cardozo pulled at his jersey, goalkeeper Justo Villar jumped on him, and they were quickly swarmed by the whole team.