The games Tuesday at the 2010 FIFA World Cup featured a contrast of matches. Portugal and Spain went the distance and finished 1-0 in Spain’s favor, and Paraguay vs. Japan went into extra time with Japan suffering heartbreak in a penalty shootout.
Oscar Cardozo gave the Paraguayans the victory 5-3 in the penalty shootout when he coolly put a left-footed shot in the corner past keeper Eiji Kawashima. They made all five of their shots, while Yuichi Komano suffered heartbreak at the hands of the crossbar.
“We practiced penalty kicks once, so nobody could say we weren’t prepared,” Paraguayan coach Gerardo Martino said. “But our executions weren’t too good. You can’t recreate the environment you’ll face in a real game, with 40,000 fans.”
According to Martino, Cardozo requested the chance to take the last kick, a testament to the team trying to win its first World Cup ever.
“Character plays a big role,” Martino said. “What can you say when a Cardozo asks to kick the fifth penalty and he does it the way he did it?”
Four of the eight teams so far in the next round all hail from South America. The only team not to make it was Chile, who were ousted by another South American team, Brazil.
Komano held his head in his hands after failing to score his first international goal for the Japanese.
“It is very difficult to narrow down why we didn’t score,” Japan coach Takeshi Okada said. “We should have made the opportunities. I think it is my responsibility.”
The other match featured two soccer powerhouses Portugal and Spain that finished in a 1-0 victory for Spain. Portugal’s defense was stoning the usually potent Spanish offense until David Villa broke the tie in the 63rd minute. Villa is not tied for the lead in scoring at the World Cup with four goals.
“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.”
Christiano Ronaldo finished with a poor tournament, his lone goal coming in the 7-0 rout of North Korea. His best chance came in the 28th minute off a free kick from 35 yards out that forced a save from Casillas.
The two Iberian rivals have met 33 times in international competition. Spain has beaten the Portuguese 16 times, while their counterparts have won only five times.
Soccer sportsbooks have set the Paraguayans as the underdogs to defeat the No. 1 ranked team in the world at +700 odds. Spain’s line is set at -250, and the over/under set for total goals scored in the match by both teams is set at 2 1/2.