JOHANNESBURG - David Villa has loads of friends in Spain these days and two pretty good ones in South Africa - the goalposts at Ellis Park.
Villa banked in the only goal of Spain’s 1-0 victory over Paraguay in the World Cup quarterfinals off not one post, but both of them. Villa took the tournament scoring lead with his fifth goal, in the 83rd minute.
His goal Saturday finished off a brilliant, three-way passing combination that typifies the way the European champions like to play. It sent Spain into the World Cup’s final four for the first time in 60 years and highlighted a chaotic second half.
“The post wanted it to go in,” Villa said.
Now Spain faces Germany on Wednesday in Durban – a reprise of its 1-0 victory in the Euro 2008 final.
“Every game is different,” Villa added. “I’m sure Germany isn’t happy we got through.”
A somewhat subdued match suddenly got wild in a two-minute span of the second half.
Gerard Pique pulled down Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo in the penalty area on a corner kick, earning a yellow card and giving Cardozo a penalty kick.
Cardoza, who ended his team’s shootout win over Japan, was denied this time by Iker Casillas, who dived left to block the low kick.
“He will know this is the way of football,” Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino said. “This can happen. It’s important for him not to feel bad.”
Seconds later, Villa broke free behind the defense and was fouled by Antolin Alcoraz, who drew a yellow card. Xabi Alonso went to the penalty spot and sent a wicked drive into the net.
The stadium rocked, but referee Carlos Batres of Guatemala waved off the goal, saying a Spain player entered the area too soon.
Given a second chance, keeper Justo Villar guessed correctly, diving left to make the save. He also knocked the rebound away from Cesc Fabregas before defender Paulo Da Silva made a leg save at the goal line on another shot by Sergio Ramos.
Paraguay did find the net in the 41st minute when Nelson Valdez controlled a free kick and put it past Casillas, but linesman Carlos Pastrana of Honduras raised his flag. Replays, however, showed that the Borussia Dortmund striker was not offside.
“We feel fine because FIFA will apologize tomorrow and everything will be all right,” Martino said sarcastically, in reference to FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s apology to Mexico and England after they were the victims of poor refereeing decisions in the Round of 16.