A first chance to see Spain's two rivals in their group, and from this match we should not have a lot to fear. Paraguay went into a two goal lead in the first hour of the match, with Bayern Munich's Santa Cruz getting the first shortly before half time from Arce's cross, and Arce himself getting the second from a well struck free kick after the break. With a name like that the right back may well attract the interest of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger?
Paraguay though sat back to defend their lead, with disastrous consequences. First of all the Bafana Bafana got one back when Mokoena's shot took a deflection off Stuway. And then in the last minute keeper Tavanelli, standing in for the suspended Chilavert (remember he was banned for spitting at Brazil's Roberto Carlos) brought down Zuma in the area. Manchester United and ex Atlético Madrid midfielder Quinton Fortune stepped up to blast the resulting penalty kick past the unfortunate keeper. A great result for Spain, who play Paraguay next Friday.
Spanish league players: Toro Acuña had a quiet game for Paraguay, with a few uncharacteristic mistakes. Maybe he is thinking of his impending move to Atlético Madrid? No other current Spanish players, although Benni McCarthy, at the moment on loan from Celta to Porto, did play most of the game for South Africa.
Spain won their opening game in the World Cup finals for the first time since 1950 to finally lay the ghost. For once the draw was kind to them and threw them together with debutantes Slovenia, who they had already beaten in the Euro 2000 championships.
Camacho found room for Valerón, Raúl and Diego Tristán in his starting line up, and it was Raúl who silenced his critics with an opening goal on the stroke of half time, picking up a loose ball after Luis Enrique had been tackled to slip off his marker and slide an angled shot under the keeper.
Valerón added a second with a quarter of an hour to go after a defence splitting cross from De Pedro, but Slovenia gave the Spanish fans a fright when substitute Cimerotic burst through to beat Casillas nine minutes from the end. However a dubious late penalty by Gajser on Morientes enabled Hierro to make it 3-1 from the spot and put Spain on the road to the second round. See detailed match report.
Spain became the first team to qualify for the second round after another 3-1 victory, this time over Paraguay. The South Americans took an early lead though after Puyol put the ball inadvertently into his own net while trying to clear after Casillas had pushed out Arce's shot. Camacho had stuck to the same starting line up as the game with Slovenia, but after a frustrating first half he brought on Real Madrid men Iván Helguera and Morientes at the break.
That made the difference, and within eight minutes Morientes levelled the scores, getting on the end of De Pedro's corner to send a strong header in to the back of Chilavert's net. The controversial Paraguayan keeper had upset the Spanish camp earlier in the week with his boasts, but Spain got their revenge when he misjudged De Pedro's cross with twenty minutes to go to allow Morientes to score his second of the match.
Chilvert did bring the best save of the night out of his opposite number Casillas with a well struck free kick, but with eight minutes to go the referee awarded a penalty to Spain when Raúl was held down by Paredes, and Hierro stepped up to put the result beyond doubt. See detailed match report.
Controversy in the Slovenia camp overshadowed this match. The East European's star striker Zlatko Zahovic was sent home after arguing with manager Katonec and apparently insulting his family. Could it be that he accused him of not being a proper Slovenian as his name did not end in "ic" (pronounced "itch")? Who knows, but the presidents of the country and the football federation Milan Kucan and Rudi Zavri both supported the manager. "Our names don't end with "ic" and we run the show around here" they probably said. Katonec said "thank you, but in any case I've had enough of this and I'm leaving after the World cup".
Whatever the case they lined up without their star player and found themselves behind in the fourth minute. And it was a goal in keeping with what was frankly not a good game, Nomvethe rising to meet Fortune's free kick, missing it completely with his head but sending what we suppose should be called a thigher into the back of the net. The fans had to entertain themselves with a Korean wave, although there was some fun early in the second half when an "itchy" Katonec argued with the Dutch fourth official and was sent off to the stands. Not a happy bunny at all.
After that there were a few chances for both sides, McCarthy missed a bucketful before being stretchered off and Nastja Ceh saw a header saved by Arendse. South Africa's first ever World cup finals victory takes them into the last match with Spain with a chance of reaching the next round, although they probably needed a couple more goals here to build up a better goal difference. Slovenia are out, and their last game may be no more than shooting practise for the Paraguayans. Katanec's final comments? Unprintable.
Spanish league players: None current, although ex Celta player Benni McCarthy should have scored four in the second half.
Spain made it three wins out of three as they advanced to the next round of the tournament against South Africa. Already qualified, Camacho's side needed a point at least to take top spot in the group and set up a last sixteen tie with Eire rather than the more dangerous Germans, and reports from the training camp suggested that the manager would only make three or four changes to make sure of a result. In the end though only three players, Casillas, Nadal and Raúl, kept their place from the starting line up in the last match as Camacho decided that a rest for his stars was more important than securing the point he needed. Not that the replacements let him down though, as they comfortably controlled the game to take the lead three times and eventually dump their opponents out of the competition.
The first goal came early on, the usually reliable Arendse failing to hold on to Mendieta's through ball, allowing Raúl to steal it out of his hands to roll it into the net. Mendieta went close with a low shot and Morientes connected with Joaquín's cross only to see Arendse pull off a one-handed save as Spain pushed for a second goal. But it was the Africans who got the next goal, Celta reject Benni McCarthy adding a few million to his price tag turning the ball past Casillas after Nomvethe headed on. It looked as if the teams were going to go in all square at the break, but Mendieta had other ideas, bending a free kick round the wall and in to the corner of the net on the stroke of half time.
Camacho took off the injured Albelda to give an outing to Sergio, but before he had time to take his position Radebe equalised once again for the Bafana Bafana, heading down into the bottom corner after Romero could only head back a corner kick. Their joy only lasted a minute or so though before the excellent Joaquín cut in from the right to lay the ball on for Raúl to steer a header past Arendse, his third of the competition to date. Camacho brought on Luque for his international debut and then Luis Enrique, and both almost added to the scoreline with efforts from close range. South Africa were not too bothered as news from the other group match meant that they would end the day in second place, enough to see them through.
But then with the game reaching the finish they heard that Paraguay had gone further ahead and that they were out on goal difference. It was too late to react though, and soon afterwards the final whistle went and they were going home. Spain march through confidently, and Camacho may have some problems now deciding whether to bring back his favourites or give another run out to the substitutes. Two or three World cup managers would love to be in his place. See detailed report.
Paraguay have Spain to thank for helping them through to the next round of the competition. They came into this match with little hope of going through after only picking up one point from their first two games, and things looked even blacker when Paredes picked up a second booking to leave his side with ten men midway through the first half. Even so they managed to do most of the attacking against a poor Slovenia side, but then a mistake by Chilavert gave away a soft goal on the stroke of half time, the eccentric keeper deflecting Acimovic's speculative shot from wide on the right into his own net.
Acimovic hit the bar early in the second half as Slovenia's confidence grew, and Maldini decided to ring the changes, bringing on Jorge Campos and Nelson Cuevas. The substitutions changed the face of the game, and Cuevas found the net with almost his first touch, beating Dabanovic with a low drive. Seven minutes later the South Americans were in front, this time Campos shooting past the keeper from the edge of the box, and Chilavert almost became the first keeper to score in a World cup finals when his long free kick almost caught Dabanovic unawares a few minutes later.
Paraguay still needed another goal though to move ahead of South Africa on goal difference, and they were helped when Slovenia's Nastja Ceh got himself sent off for a hard tackle. Then with a few minutes remaining Cuevas picked up the ball and beat two men before firing in a shot off the crossbar. Paraguay were through, and will meet Germany in the first of the second round fixtures on Saturday. Maldini they call him? It should be Houdini.
Spanish league players: None current, although three of the starting line up, Chilavert, Ayala and Gamarra, have all played in Spain in the past.