Germany crush hapless Argentina, Spain edge past Paraguay (UPDATED)
Germany ended Diego Maradona's dream of leading Argentina to World Cup glory in emphatic fashion with a 4-0 win while Spain squeaked past Paraguay 1-0 in Saturday's quarter-final action, dpa reported.
Argentina had impressed in their first four games in South Africa but against stronger opponents their defensive frailties were cruelly exposed and Maradona hinted strongly that he would now quit as head coach.
"I'm going to be 50 on October 30th, and this is the hardest thing I've had to go thorough because I'm in front of so many good players and good people," he said after the loss in Cape Town.
"It's like a knock-out punch from Muhammad Ali, and I don't have the strength to do anything. It wasn't the ending we'd hoped for, but I believe that whoever comes in next will have to continue on the same path because it's the path the Argentines want."
His opposite number Joachim Loew will now takes his team to Durban where they face Spain on Wednesday after they beat Paraguay in Johannesburg in Saturday's other quarter-final.
David Villa scored the only goal of the match for the European champions in the 83rd minute at Johannesburg`s Ellis Park Stadium. It was his fifth goal, putting him atop the scorer's list.
The game featured a Paraguay goal which was disallowed and two missed penalties within three minutes, the second which Spain`s Xabi Alonso converted but had to re-take and was blocked.
Germany have refound the form that saw them sweep Australia aside in their opening group game and they tore Argentina apart with goals from Thomas Mueller, Arne Friedrich and two by Miroslav Klose.
Klose's second goal, a minute from time, was his 14th World Cup goal, equalling the German record of Gerd Mueller. He now has 51 goals in 100 games and has fully justified the faith shown in him by the German head coach.
Klose ranks second on the 2010 scoring list behind Villa with four goals along with team-mate Thomas Mueller, Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain, the Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder and Slovakia's Robert Vittek.
Klose got the goals but it was midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger who earned FIFA Man of the Match with an inspired display of leadership. He also set up the first goal for Mueller with a free- kick and crossed for the third.
"We played very well. I am very proud of the team. The early goal was decisive for us. We are strong enough to go further," said Schweinsteiger.
"The team is very young. What we lack in experience we make up for in audacity and a carefree approach."
It was an amazing result for the Germans, who had destroyed their other old enemy England 4-1 in the previous round.
The only downside was a booking for Mueller on the 35th minute, which puts the young star out for the semi-final.
Spain forward Villa showed his class in a nail-biting victory over Paraguay, scoring the winner seven minutes from tiem.
Pedro`s shot was stopped by the left post and the rebound went to Villa, whose drive banged off the far right post and then off the left post for a goal.
Shortly before the break, Nelson Valdez found the back of the net for Paraguay, but the goal was disallowed.
Paraguay were awarded a penalty on the hour mark when Gerard Pique yanked on Cardozo`s arm in the area. The Benfica forward took the spot kick, which Spanish keeper Iker Casillas saved.
The Guatemala referee Carlos Batres pointed to the spot for Spain on their next counter attack, and Xabi Alonso converted by lofting the ball into the upper left corner. But Batres ruled a Spanish player had encroached into the area and Alonso had to re-take the penalty.
Paraguay keeper Justo Villar stopped the second attempt and took down Cesc Fabregas when he tried to hit the rebound, but Batres did not award another spot kick.
Casillas was not convinced with his team's showing.
"We didn`t play that well. We did not have a lot of chances and it was kind of a lucky goal that led us to the victory," he said before praising Germany.
"They are a great teams, probably the best team in the World Cup. They knocked out some great teams in England and Argentina, and that with 4-1 and 4-0 results. Respect. I expect a huge game," said Casillas.