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Spain 1-0 Portugal
30 June 2010 @ 15:30

European champions Spain survived a stern test from Portugal to book their place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup through David Villa's goal.

Two years to the day since they beat Germany to triumph at Euro 2008, Vicente del Bosque's side showed their slick brand of passing football is still just as effective by edging out their well-drilled Iberian rivals.

Spain had to survive a succession of missed chances by the Portuguese in the first half but, once Villa broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute with his fourth goal of the tournament, they rarely looked threatened.

Portugal, semi-finalists in Germany four years ago, had Ricardo Costa sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Joan Capdevila before the end but by then their fate already looked sealed.

The only concern for Spain, who play Paraguay in the last eight, is the continuing lack of form shown by striker Fernando Torres, who seems to still be feeling the after-effects of the knee operation he had in April.

Torres did play his part in a bright start by Spain, cutting into the area and testing Eduardo with a curling shot, but he quickly faded and it was actually Portugal who had the best openings before half-time.

Villa had also brought a fine save out of Eduardo early on, while Xavi fired a first-time shot over from a corner but, after surviving those scares, Carlos Queiroz's side not only found a way of keeping Spain at arms length, they also began to threaten at the other end.

Twice Cristiano Ronaldo tried his luck from long range with free-kicks, and on the second occasion Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas could not hold on to the ball and Gerard Pique had to mop up.

Casillas looked jittery again when he parried a pile-driver by Tiago and had to race to beat Hugo Almeida to the ball, which was dropping towards the net.

Almeida somehow missed the target after rising to meet Simao's inviting deep cross, while Tiago wasted another good opening when he nodded wide from Fabio Coentrao's driven centre.

That should have acted as a warning for Spain, but they were caught on the break again early in the second half and were lucky to escape when Almeida's cross span off Carlos Puyol and looped just beyond the far post.

Portugual failed to seriously test Casillas again after that, but it still took the introduction of striker Fernando Llorente, who came off the bench for the ineffective Torres just before the hour mark, to spark Spain into life.

Within seconds, Llorente met a Sergio Ramos cross with a diving header that flew straight at Eduardo, who was relieved when Villa bent a shot round his post from the outside of the box soon afterwards.

You sensed the Spanish knew this was their moment and, in their next attack, Xavi's clever backheel played in Villa, who had his first shot saved but lifted the rebound into the roof of the net.

Del Bosque's men grew in confidence after taking the lead and, with Ronaldo anonymous, Portugal seemed short on ideas of how they could find an equaliser.

Spain should have added to their lead before the end, with Eduardo saving from Ramos and Villa, while the impressive Llorente headed wide.

But one goal was enough for them to secure victory and they look in good shape to go past the last eight, which is as far as they have progressed at a World Cup since they finished fourth in Brazil in 1950.

Source: BBC Sport

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