Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Paraguay Make It Through After Penalties

Paraguay 0-0 Japan
Paraguay advances 5-3 on kicks from the penalty mark.

The first knockout of the competition to go the distance as Paraguay won 5-3 after kicks from the penalty mark to progress in their Round of 16 clash in Pretoria to send them onto Ellis Park and a quarter final clash against either Spain or Portugal.

Japan made a lively start, testing Justo Villar within the first 25 seconds of the game through a shot from Yoshito Okubo. Paraguay were enjoying plenty of posession, Edgar Benitez wasted a change for the Paraguayans, but everytime they got the ball the Japanese has men back in numbers to defend. Japan custodian Kawashima denied Lucas Barrios with a great save halfway through the first half and a minute later Villar was relieved to see a chance from Matsui go over the cross bar. The game struggled to catch the imagination and the teams went in level at the break.

There wasn't a lot of openness about the game at all, both sides began to cancel each other out. Gerardo Martino, the Paraguay coach, made the first bid for glory on the hour when he introduced Nelson Valdez into the game. The Japanese though finished the second half stonger as the Paraguayans sat back and awaited the extra period. It livened up a little in the extra period as both sets of players tired, Kawashima denied Valdez and Villar pushed a free kick from Honda round the post. Villar caused panic after dropping a free kick in the area but he was able to regather at the second attempt. The second half of extra time saw few chances as it came down to 12 yards.

Barreto got Paraguay off to the perfect start but Endo levelled. Barrios was also successful for Paraguay as was Japan captain Hasebe. Sunderland's Cristian Riveros put Paraguay ahead before Komano saw his kick hit the crossbar to put Paraguay in the box seat. Valdez then put Paraguay on the hill, but Honda coolly slotted home his kick to just about leave the door ajar for the Blue Samurai's hopes. That door was quickly slammed shut in their faces as Cardozo slammed the ball past Kawashima to cue scenes of joy from the Paraguayans who will have to play a lot lot better against illustrious European opposition if they are to progress any further. This also means a side from the CONMEBOL region will feature in each of the quarter finals raising the prospect of an all South American last four. Something that has never happened before in this competition.

Highlights are again courtesy of the official FIFA website. These are subject to local restrictions. We recommend our UK readers use the BBC Website.

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