Saturday, July 10, 2010
Round of 16. Match 8: Spain 1-0 Portugal
This match was a mouth watering prospect that didn't quite live up to the hype. That's not to say it wasn't a good game - it was. It just wasn't a brilliant game, which with the players on offer it really could have been.
Torres and Villa both tested Eduardo in the early stages and Eduardo started as he meant to go on. In other words throughout the game his quality shone through. He made some excellent saves and underlined his reputation as one of the goalkeepers of the tournament. Casillas on the other hand appeared shaky, punching weakly and behind him from Tiago's shot, although doing very well to recover under pressure from Almeida. Casillas also spilled a free kick from Ronaldo but he spilled it with enough force that it still managed to escape from danger.
Portugal had a few other chances throughout the game. Simao sent in a couple of good balls that no-one managed to get properly on the end of and Puyol almost diverted an Almeida pass into his own goal. But in truth they lacked incisiveness and only threatened sporadically. Ronaldo for one had a very disappointing game.
Spain dominated proceedings through their typical domination of possession as they played pretty passing football around the edge of the box as they patiently sought the breakthrough. Llorente came on for Torres and almost opened the scoring - his header was very well saved by Eduardo at point blank range.
Villa was a constant menace, and it was he who scored the winning goal around the hour mark. Xavi, who had made a good run, lightly flicked on a ball from the mesmerising Iniesta into the path of Villa who scored at the second attempt. It was a well worked goal and fitting that it was Villa who scored it.
I do have to point out that the goal was offside. I did a frame by frame analysis and although Villa was clearly onside when Iniesta played the ball, at the moment when Xavi flicked the ball on he was offside. Not by much granted, but a few inches is still offside. It would have been hard for the assistant referee to pick up that Xavi had flicked the ball on, let alone that it was definitely offside even if he had. So I will forgive the decision. And Spain did deserve to win. Indeed instead of Portugal almost coming back into it both Ramos and Villa had opportunities to extend the lead.
Right at the death Costa was sent off for elbowing Capdevilla. This was a poor decision and showed Capdevilla off in a bad light. Yes there was a hint of an elbow, but that went into his side and nowhere near his face which he went down clutching.