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Spain Joins Germany, Netherlands, Uruguay in World Cup Semifinals

  • Sonny Young


The field is now set for next week's semifinals at the World Cup football tournament in South Africa. Spain and Germany scored victories Saturday to advance to the final four.

Playing at Ellis Park Stadium here in Johannesburg, Spain edged Paraguay, one-nil, on a goal by star striker David Villa in the 83rd minute.

The ball fell to Villa after teammate Pedro Rodriguez hit the post, and he then curled in a shot that banked in off both posts. It was Villa's tournament-leading fifth goal, and it propelled Spain its first appearance in the World Cup semifinals.

Earlier in the second half, both teams had chances to score off penalty kicks, but were denied by the goalkeepers. In the 59th minute, Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas stopped a penalty shot by Oscar Cardozo. And a few minutes later, Paraguay's captain Justo Villar saved a penalty kick by Xabi Alonso.

Spain will next face three-time World Cup champion Germany in a semifinal July 7 in Durban.


Earlier Saturday, the Germans thrashed Argentina, four-nil, at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. Miroslav Klose celebrated his 100th international appearance by scoring two goals for Germany. Klose has now scored 14 goals in three World Cup tournaments, leaving him only one goal behind the World Cup scoring record held by Brazil striker Ronaldo. Thomas Mueller and Arne Friedrich had the other goals for the Germans, who played with precision and "absolute class," in the words of head coach Joachim Loew.

Former star midfielder Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha played in three World Cups for Nigeria, and was a member of the country's 1996 Olympic gold medal-winning soccer team. He says Germany taught Argentina the meaning of true team football.

"It's a big lesson for so many of us today ... to really see that football is a team game," said Okocha. "It's not all about individual players. You have to present yourself as a team, to be able to stand a good chance, and then your individual brilliance can come afterwards. All credit to the German team. I think they came out with a game plan and they executed it throughout the whole game. I think we've seen a very good game today [by the Germans]."

Uruguay will go against the Netherlands in the other World Cup semifinal on July 6 in Cape Town. The World Cup final will be held July 11 at Soccer City Stadium here in Johannesburg.


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