Friday, July 09, 2010

Round of 16. Match 7: Paraguay 0-0 Japan - Paraguay win on penalties

This was a tightly fought match memorable for its intensity if not its action, which in truth produced very few chances or particularly noteworthy action. Paraguay looked more likely to score but found it difficult to breach a watertight Japanese defence. The centre-back pairing of Tulio and Nakazawa thwarted anything that Paraguay threw at them, which was nowhere near enough considering the talent they have at their disposal. Paraguay appeared comfortable on defence as Japan looked devoid of any real ideas to penetrate the Paraguay goal.

There were periods of nice play from both sides but true creativity was hard to come by. Many parts of the game were highly tactical that few neutrals would be excited by. Naturally there were some opportunities: Matsui, Japan's most impressive attacking player on the day, hit the crossbar from distance, Barrios (who along with Riveros were the best Paraguayans going forward) made a sublime turn only to see his shot saved.

Extra-time continued in the same vein as the match drifted to its inexorable conclusion: World Cup 2010's first penalty shoot-out. Komano was the only player to miss (hitting the crossbar) to see Paraguay reach the quarter-final for the first time in their history.

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