Paraguay v. Spain
A Madrid vendor selling Spanish flags blows a vuvuzela before the World Cup quarter-final between Spain and Paraguay in Johannesburg on July 3.
DAVID VILLA SCORED HIS FIFTH goal of the finals in South Africa to seal a World Cup semi-final berth for Spain for the first time in their history.
The Barcelona striker showed lightning-fast reactions to smash the ball home off both posts after Pedro's effort had also ricocheted back off the woodwork with eight minutes remaining.
The second-half had exploded into life in three mad minutes just before the hour-mark when first Paraguay and then Spain were awarded penalties which were saved.
Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo was distraught at the final whistle after his spotkick was saved by Iker Casillas after 57 minutes, while Xabi Alonso -- whose first, successful kick was disallowed for encroachment -- saw his second effort saved by Justo Villar minutes later.
Spain will now play an on-form Germany -- who earlier hammered Argentina 4-0 -- in Durban on Wednesday evening for a place in the final on July 11.
Read on to find out how an action-packed second-half panned out at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
2035 GMT: More from Hugo, who tells me Roque Santa Cruz has been talking to Paraguayan television:
"We showed that we could have ended up the einnrers of that game," says the Manchester City striker.
"We have to resign ourselves to this bitter blow -- we played a great game but ran out of luck.
"Spain didn't deserve it more than Paraguay. We had our chances but they had the rub of the green and won the game."
2033 GMT: And, in the interest of editorial balance, here's an offering from another colleague Denholm Barnetson in Madrid:
"A deafening roar outside Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium where thousands watched the match on giant screens," he tells me.
"Joy had turned to frustration earlier after those penalty kicks."
2028 GMT: My AFP colleague Hugo Olazar has sent me this from Paraguay's capital Asuncion:
"Paraguayans here are accepting the defeat to Spain in silence," Hugo tells me.
"The fans of the 'White and Reds' are flooding out of the Defensores del Chaco stadium, where 15,000 people watched the game on a big screen.
"The fans applauded their team for reaching a quarter-final of the World Cup for the first time ever, but are lemnting the chance that striker Oscar "Tacuara" Cardozo had to win the game for Paraguay from the penalty spot."
2023 GMT: Spain are through and will play their FIRST EVER World Cup semi-final, against Germany in Durban on Wednesday evening.
90+4 mins: FULL-TIME - Paraguay 0 Spain 1
90 mins: Three minutes injury time to play after Sergio Ramos gets a crack on the head.
Ramos is back on with his head bandaged.
88 mins: Lucas Barrios through on goal, Casillas spills it to the feet of Santa Cruz who smashes it goalwards but the Real Madrid 'keeper makes amends with a great block.
87 mins: Paraguay fans in the crowd are looking dejected but they've still got five minutes!
Lucas Barrios on for Victor Caceres for Paraguay
82 mins: GOAL! Paraguay 0 Spain 1
Amazing! Iniesta beats two players as he burst through midfield. He squares it to Pedro who cracks it against a post and it bounces out to David Villa. The Barcelona striker then hits it against one post, before seeing it bounce against the other and over the line.
This is a truly weird game. That's Villa's fifth of the tournament and he's the top-scorer.
78 mins: Spain's Villa is a whisker away from heading that cross goalwards from close in.
74 mins: Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez has come on for Xabi Alonso.
73 mins: Xavi flashes a blistering shot wide.
Roque Santa Cruz has come on for Nelson Valdez who has worked his socks off for Paraguay.
72 mins: YELLOW CARD! Claudio Morel booked for stopping the Spanish from taking a quick fre-kick.
65 mins: Paraguay change -- Enrique Vera on for Edgar Barreto.
64 mins: And when Cardozo took his penalty for Paraguay replays show there were at least three Spanish players in the area.
No consistency there.
62 mins: What an absolutely remarkable two minute sequence there:
-- penalty for Paraguay at one end -- saved.
-- penalty straight away for Spain at the other -- scored... but disallowed for encroachment.
-- retaken penalty -- saved. And there should have been a third spotkick awarded for Villar's foul on Fabregas...
Bonkers. Now the game's alive!
60 mins: PENALTY SAVED!
And Villar saves Alonso's retaken spotkick. Cue mayhem!
Fabregas was taken out by Villar as he went for the rebound and should that not have been another penalty???
59 mins: PENALTY to Spain!
Taken by Alosno who scores --- but it has to be retaken after encroachment!
YELLOW CARD! Antolin Alcaraz booked for his foul on David Villa for which the penalty was awarded. Should he not have been sent off as he was the last man?
57 mins: PENALTY to Paraguay!
Gerard Pique pulls back Oscar Cardozo and penalty is the only option.
YELLOW CARD! Pique was rightly booked for that.
But Cardozo blasts it straight at Casillas.
56 mins: Arsenal's Fabregas comes on for the ineffective Fernando Torres -- what a poor World Cup the Liverpool striker's having.
53 mins: Cesc Fabregas is being readied to enter the fray for Spain.
49 mins: Early pressure from Spain -- Morel is caught in possession, Villa breaks to the byeline on the right but he can't control his cross.
47 mins: Caceres through for Valdez -- but it just runs away from the stocky striker and through to Spain's 'keeper Iker Casillas.
46 mins: Neither side has made any changes at the break.
1932 GMT: THE GUATEMALAN REFEREE Carlos Batres blows his whistle and the second-half is under way.
1920 GMT: "If I was the Spain manager I would be really worried -- (Fernando) Torres in the first half has shown nothing," says former England striker and now BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer.
45+1 mins: HALF-TIME - Paraguay 0 Spain 0
45 mins: Valdez on the break, cuts inside his man but blasts it over.
Paraguay are showing some attacking intent here.
41 mins: Ball over the top picks out Valdez who controls it and sweeps it into the net! But he's flagged offside -- the striker was convinced he wasn't but Cardozo, who rose to flick it on but made no contact, was and it's rightly disallowed as he was certainly active.
Unfortunate for Gerardo Martino's men.
39 mins: Ball possession after 39 minutes: Spain 61 percent, Paraguay 39 percent.
No surprises there but they haven't created one clear-cut opening.
35 mins: Good move from Paraguay down the left -- Morel sweeps in a delightfully curling cross but it's just beyond Santana at the back post. Promising.
33 mins: Free-kick for Spain to the right of the area -- Iniesta rolls it back for left-back Capdevila but the pace is taken off his strike by the wall, the ball skipping into Villar's gloves.
28 mins: The ball bounces up for Xavi 30 yards out and the diminutive Barcelona midfielder pirouettes before unleashing a sweet dipping volley which passes just over Justo Villar's crossbar.
25 mins: Villa skips clear down the lefthand side of the area, cuts in along the byeline but his pull-back is cut out by a Paraguay defender.
21 mins: A sniff for Paraguay -- a looping free-kick from the righthand touchline goes beyond the Spanish defence and just evades the head of airborne defender Alcaraz at the back post.
16 mins: Spain are trying to get their renowned "tikki-takka" style of rapid one-touch passing going -- but the Paraguayans aren't shy of a tackle and are quick to break up the pretty patterns.
11 mins: Free-kick to Paraguay 40 yards out, centrally -- Morel takes a huge run-up and predictably leathers it high over the crossbar.
7 mins: First attack from Spain -- Xavi to Busqets and back to Alonso 30 yards out who unleashes a powerful drive that deflects behind for a corner off Caceres.
4 mins: Ramos tries to break down the right but he's met by a crunching tackle by Riveros.
1 min: Lively start for the Guaranies -- the ball is flicked inside from a throw in and midfielder Jonathan Santana gets in a decent shot on target within 45 seconds from the edge of the area.
1831 GMT: AND WE'RE OFF in Johannesburg...
1828 GMT: Both teams are out on the pitch, holding up a FIFA "Say No To Racism" banner having sung their respective anthems at Ellis Park, scene of South Africa's memorable Rugby World Cup triumph back in 1995.
1824 GMT: This snippet from my colleague Denholm Barnetson in Madrid:
"Spanish Hollywood movie star Antonio Banderas doesn't expect any surprises tonight as the team 'learnt a good lesson' from its loss to Switzerland in their first game.
"And Banderas knows a thing or too about the game -- he was planning a career as a professional footballer until he suffered an accident as a teenager."
Shame he didn't stick to jumpers for goalposts...
1818 GMT: With Santa Cruz dropped to the bench, the pressure will be on Oscar Cardozo -- who scored 26 league goals for Benfica in the Portuguese league last season -- to nick one for the defensively-minded South Americans.
1811 GMT: Paraguay will celebrate 200 years of independence from Spain next May -- if they could beat their former colonial overlords here tonight, the party in Asuncion might just start ten months early...
1806 GMT: So, bit of a shake up for the Paraguayans as their Argentine coach makes six changes from the team that stumbled past Japan in the last round.
Gerardo Martino has ditched all three of his misfiring strikers from that game -- Roque Santa Cruz, Edgar Benitez and Lucas Barrios -- and has switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation.
In come Nelson Valdez and Oscar Cardozo up front with Dario Veron taking over at right-back and Victor Caceres, Edgar Barreto and Jonathan Santana all included in midfield.
Carlos Bonet, Enrique Vera and Nestor Ortigozo are the others to be dropped.
In contrast, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has picked the same starting XI for the third game in a row.
1803 GMT: The starting line-ups are out:
Paraguay: Justo Villar (capt); Dario Veron, Antolin Alcaraz, Paulo Da Silva, Claudio Morel Rodriguez; Cristian Riveros, Victor Caceres, Edgar Barreto, Jonathan Santana; Nelson Valdez, Oscar Cardozo
Coach: Gerardo Martino (ARG).
Spain: Iker Casillas (capt); Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta; David Villa, Fernando Torres
Coach: Vicente Del Bosque (ESP)
Referee: Carlos Batres (GUA)
1801 GMT: My AFP colleague Robert Smith sends me this from pitchside at the stadium:
"The red and yellow flags of Spain are everywhere in the build-up to the final quarter-final at Ellis Park this chilly Johannesburg evening.
"The crowd is slowly building half an hour ahead of the kick-off against Paraguay with the winner to play Germany in Durban on Wednesday evening."
WELCOME TO OUR SECOND LIVE WORLD CUP commentary of the day, this time from the quarter-final clash between pass masters Spain and a rather less star-studded Paraguay side at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Euro 2008 winners Spain had to huff and puff before breaking down Portugal's stubborn defence in their last match while Paraguay edged past Japan on penalties after two hours of goalless football so a tight and nervy affair beckons in this evening's game.
Vicente Del Bosque insists his skilful team won't underestimate the Guaranies, a side coached by Gerardo Martino whose progress to the last eight in South Africa has been largely based on a miserly defence that has leaked just one goal in four games.
The Spanish will look to striker David Villa can keep up his red-hot form in front of goal and add to his tournament tally of four so far, while Paraguay will hope Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz can finally find his shooting boots.
Kick-off is fast approaching in just over thirty minutes at 1830 GMT so stay with us for live build-up and all the action as it happens.