After watching the exciting match between Uruguay and Ghana, Goran and I decided to take a few spare pairs of underpants to our quarter final with Paraguay. And what a good job we did! The match had everything, disallowed goals, penalty saves, posts, and a late goal from who else but Sir David Villa to take us in to the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time ever! We did have some problems with the security check at Ellis Park though. “Show me what you have in the bag please gentlemen”. “Are you really sure?”. “Yes, open it up please…. phwor, what’s that?”. Goran admits he hadn’t had time to use the hotel laundry as he has just got back from Cape Town. “Close the bag, quickly please, and get out of my sight!”. He is talking in to his radio though as we go through, and there are a couple of men in dark glasses standing near to us throughout the game!
Anyway, Paraguay say they are going to defend and give us some stick, and we struggle again in the first half. Xavi has the only shot at goal, and Paraguay’s forward Valdés scores but it is disallowed by the Guatemalan referee Sr. Carlos Bartres, either for offside (which he wasn’t) or for hand ball (which he did). So a quick change of pants at half time for that, but then things start to go mad. The usually brilliant Piqué is caught trying to wrench Cardoso’s arm out of it’s socket, and it’s a penalty for the South Americans. But Reina has faced Cardoso before, and he tells San Iker which way to go. And he is right, Casillas makes the save!
So it’s off for another quick change of “ropa interior”, but before we take four steps Spain are given a penalty themselves after Alcaraz pushes over David Villa! Surely that’s a red card, but Bartres only gives him a yellow. Xabi Alonso is going to take the penalty and he scores, but the referee says he has to take it again! Why? Encroachment, say the match commentators, but there is hardly any encroaching going on (this we confirm on the TV later on), and if anybody has encroachified it is the Paraguayans! They had complained before the game about this referee giving decisions against them, and maybe he is trying to make up with them? Or maybe they had promised him a night with the lovely Larissa Riquelme, the Paraguayan model who keeps her mobile phone down the front of her top, and who has promised to take all her clothes off as a reward for the players if they win the World Cup (from checking her web-site, that doesn’t seem to anything out of the ordinary for her)!
Anyway Xabi has to take it again, and this time the Valladolid keeper Justo Villar saves. But Cesc (who has come on for the off-form Torres) goes after the rebound, and Villar brings him down! Penalty, certainly! But again Bartres fails us – he must be on a real promise! – and the game goes on. Don’t say we are going to be knocked out again by a bad referee! Another change is needed, in our case it’s another trip to the bathroom, but for Spain it’s Pedro who comes on. We would prefer Llorente but we assume Del Bosque knows what he is doing, and he is right again! Iniesta produces a run only he can do, ball out to Pedro and he shoots against the post. No! But wait, Villa is there, and he picks up the rebound and shoots. The world stops, just like those six million dollar man films, but the ball hits one post, bounces across to the other, and it’s in the net!
Still seven horrible minutes to go though, and Paraguay bring on Barrios and Santa Cruz, who the coach had left on the bench to make room for an extra two defenders. Puyol is injured too and is replaced by Marchena, and we also use the rest to make our last substitutions (Goran is already recycling his old “calzoncillos” by now, and the men in dark glasses are giving us a lot of room!). But we can count on San Iker, and although he spills a shot from Barrios, he reacts quickly enough to keep out Santa Cruz. Villa almost scores at the other end, but then the final whistle goes, and we are in to our first semi-final! Our opponents will be Germany, who are looking good after an amazing 4-0 win over Argentina, but hey, we beat them two years ago in the European final, so why not again? More of that later though, right now it’s time to celebrate!