WORLD CUP: Villa magic breaks stubborn Portugal resistance
David Villa proved the difference as Spain finally saw off obdurate Portugal, who end the game with ten men. SPA: 1 POR: 0
Venue: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town Crowd: 62,955 Officials Referee: Hector Baldassi (Argentina) Assistants: Ricardo Casas & Hernan Maidana (both Argentina) Fourth official: Carlos Batres (Guatemala) Yellow cards:SPA - Alonso POR - Tiago
Red cards: Costa (Por) MATCH REPORT Portugal rather meekly surrendered their 20 game unbeaten sequence, as with little attacking ambition until the final few minutes, they went down 1-0 to their Iberian neighbours, Spain.
Spain started the brighter, and in the first five minutes, Villa twice, then Fernando Torres both went close. Easily keeping possession Portugal were seeing very little of the ball but gradually got back into the game as Spain began to run out of ideas.
The Portuguese even began to carve chances of their own as Spanish keeper Iker Casillas began to look nervy. Cardoso Tiago fired in a shot which Casillas fumbled and from set pieces the Spanish began to look vulnerable as the first half drifted into a cagey affair with Cristiano Ronaldo largely anonymous.
The best chance of the half fell to Portugal just before the break when Miguel Hugo Almeida failed to make clean contact with a close range header. A quick break on the stroke of half time almost caught the Spain asleep but Casillas raced from his goal to clear.
Portugal had an early chance in the second half as Almeida's shot looped off Carles Puyol and bounced narrowly wide. Then, with Spain looking to have run out of ideas in breaking down the Portuguese defence Torres was substituted for Fernando Llorente, and his physical presence immediately began to tell.
A cross from the right saw him dive unmarked and head past the post, but Portugal's luck ran out a couple of minute's later.
A fine interchange of passes around the penalty area ended with Villa being released on the left, and whilst his initial effort was saved by Carvalho Eduardo he made no mistake with the rebound.
It was the Barcelona players 32nd goal in 34 international appearances.
Garcia Sergio Ramos almost doubled the score as with Portugal now committed to attack Spain began to expose the gaps at the back. Villa hit a fierce shot which was parried as their European neighbours struggled to trouble the Spanish rearguard.
On 89 minutes Portugal's miserable night got worse as Joan Capdevila went down under a suspected off-the-ball challenge from Miguel Ricardo Costa, and the referee shows a red card to the Portugal defender. Initial replays were inconclusive but it seemed a soft dismissal. Starting Line-Ups
1. Iker Casillas 15. Garcia Sergio Ramos 3. Gerard Pique 5. Carles Puyol 11. Joan Capdevila 8. Hernandez Xavi 16. Sergio Busquets 14. Xabi Alonso (Marchena, 90+3) 6. Andres Iniesta 9. Fernando Torres (Llorente, 58) 7. David Villa (Pedrito, 88) SUBS
12. Victor Valdes (GK) 2. Raul Albiol 4. Carlos Marchena 10. Francesc Fabregas 13. Juan Mata 17. Alvaro Arbeloa 18. Rodriguez Pedro 19. Fernando Llorente 20. Aguinaga Javi Martinez 21. David Silva 22. Gonzalez Jesus Navas 23. Jose Reina (GK) POR
1. Carvalho Eduardo 21. Miguel Ricardo Costa 6. Ricardo Carvalho 2. Eduardo Bruno Alves 23. Alexandre Fabio Coentrao 19. Cardoso Tiago 15. Kleper Pepe (Mendes, 72) 16. Jose Raul Meireles 11. Sabrosa Simao (Liedson, 72) 18. Miguel Hugo Almeida (Danny, 58) 7. Cristiano Ronaldo
12. Antonio Beto (GK) 3. Paulo Ferreira 4. Jorge Rolando 5. Sergio Duda 8. Pedro Mendes 9. Da Silva Liedson 10. Miguel Danny 13. Luis Miguel 14. Miguel Veloso 17. Filipe Ruben Amorim 20. Deco 22. Daniel Fernandes (GK)