Paraguay Beat Japan, Reach Quarters for First Time

Pretoria, June 29 (DPA) Paraguay advanced to the quarter-finals of the World Cup football for the first time with a 5-3 penalty shootout victory over Japan after both teams failed to score in 120 minutes of play.

Japanese defender Yuichi Komano struck the crossbar on his penalty attempt and Oscar Cardozo converted Paraguay's final spot kick to give the South Americans the victory in the first penalty shootout at South Africa 2010.

After failing to get past the Round of 16 in 1986, 1998 and 2002, Paraguay finally made history in Pretoria by reaching the final eight.

Paraguay will next face the winner between Spain and Portugal in the quarter-finals Saturday in Johannesburg.

Japan were also hoping to reach the final eight for the first time but exit at the Round of 16 stage for the second time, following 2002 as co-hosts.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino made five changes to the line-up in his team's 0-0 draw against New Zealand in the last group stage match. Entering the starting XI were Antolin Alcaraz, Carlos Bonet, Nestor Ortigoza, Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez in replacing Denis Caniza, Julio Cesar Caceres, Oscar Cardozo, Victor Caceres and Nelson Valdez.

Japanese boss Takeshi Okada kept the same formation that beat Denmark 3-1 to reach the Round of 16 clash at the Loftus Verfeld stadium in Pretoria.

Yoshito Okubo blasted just wide left after less than 20 seconds played and Komano tested Paraguay keeper Justo Villar in the third minute.

The game settled down until a through ball found Barrios, who was stopped on a fine effort by Japan keeper Elji Kawashima in the 20th minute.

Japan were close just two minutes later as Daisuke Matsui's long looping shot rattled the crossbar.

Paraguay could not really solve the Japanese defence though they had a chance at the 29-minute mark, with a corner kick landing at the feet of Roque Santa Cruz, though the Manchester City striker's shot went wide right.

The best attack of the first half belonged to Japan on a counter attack five minutes before the break as Matsui passed in to Keisuke Honda, whose left foot shot sailed just left from outside the area.

Both teams struggled in attack early on the second half though Paraguay were the better side, with Cristian Riveros (59th) and Edgar Barreto (63rd) both shooting directly at Kawashima.

Japan were close on a set piece two minutes into stoppage time but Julio could not reach Yuji Nakazama's header pass right of goal, sending the game to extra time.

Barrios had a header in the 95th minute but the Borussia Dortmund star struck too central.

Kawashima rushed out for a superb save two minutes later to block away Nelson Valdez's poke attempt after his own through ball. And Barreto hit over the bar in the 101st as Paraguay were determined to end the game in extra time.

Marcus Tulio Tanaka's header in the 112th minute off a free kick went left of goal for Japan's final chance before the shootout.

Barreto struck the first penalty and was followed by Yasuhito Endo, Barrios, Makoto Hasebe and Riveros, who made it 3-2 for Paraguay.

The Jubilo Iwata defender Komano stepped up for Japan's third penalty but struck his spot kick off the left half of the crossbar.

After Valdez converted, Honda made it 4-3, setting up Cardozo's attempt as the Benfica Lisbon forward coolly struck into the lower left corner.



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Title: Paraguay Beat Japan, Reach Quarters for First Time

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