Spain’s bulls run to close victory

2010-07-03 21:23

With betting on which country will eventually win the 2010 World

Cup getting hazier and dicier by the day as the big guns head for OR Tambo

International ­Airport’s departures section, only one thing remains a safe

bet.

And that is the strong likelihood that a European country will –

for the first time in the history of the tournament – win the trophy outside

their own continent.

Tonight, Spain turned around what up until now has been a

statistic to boast about for the South Americans – having four representatives

in the last eight.

But now that the list of the world’s best has been whittled to

four, the South Americans’ dominance has vanished like fog under the morning

sun.

Europe has reclaimed its dominance following the exit of South

American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina.

The elimination of Paraguay, who reached the quarterfinal for the

first time ever, meant that Spain are now among the three European

representatives – including Netherlands’ Oranje and the German mean

machine.

Except for the Europeans and South Americans, no team from any

other continent has reached the World Cup final.

The two continents are equal on nine titles each.

After Spanish substitute Pedro Rodriguez crashed his shot against

the upright, David Villa saw his effort hitting the same upright before it went

into the net seven minutes from the end.

Villa was buried under a tide of navy blue after netting his fifth

goal of the tournament.

Until Villa struck, it seemed both sides were hell-bent on playing

their third goalless draw in four meetings.

Two penalty misses and one disallowed goal made up this intriguing

encounter.

In the 40th minute, Paraguay’s Nelson Valdez had a goal disallowed

after Oscar Cardoso had been in an offside position at the time of

delivery.

Paraguay were denied an opener again in the 59th minute after

Gerard Pique pulled Cardozo by the arm in the box.

Cardozo was left anguished after his spotkick was saved by Iker

Casillas.

Three minutes later, Xabi Alonso thought he had showed Cardoso how

it is done when he converted a penalty after Villa was brought down by Antolin

Alcaraz, but the referee ordered a retake. Cardoso must have said “join the

club” as Alonso’s second bite was saved by Justo Villar.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino dropped three misfiring strikers –

Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez from the starting XI after the

trio failed to hit the back of the net in the last four matches – resulting in

two successive goalless draws.

Paraguay has gone for 306 minutes without a goal.

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