European champions Spain just keeps getting better and better. They survived a stern test from Portugal to book their place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup through David Villa’s goal.
Two years to the day since they beat Germany to triumph at Euro 2008, Vicente del Bosque’s side showed their slick brand of passing football is still just as effective by edging out their well-drilled Iberian rivals.
Cape Town’s stadium was seduced to oohs and aahs by a sublime Barcelona-style Spanish passing-and-pressing game, particularly in the second half, that had Ronaldo, and most of his Portuguese teammates reduced to ineffectual spectators.
Spain had to survive a succession of missed chances by the Portuguese in the first half but, once Villa broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute with his fourth goal of the tournament, they rarely looked threatened.
Portugal, semi-finalists in Germany four years ago, had Ricardo Costa sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Joan Capdevila before the end but by then their fate already looked sealed.
The only concern for Spain, who play Paraguay in the last eight, is the continuing lack of form shown by striker Fernando Torres, who seems to still be feeling the after-effects of the knee operation he had in April.
Spain should have added to their lead before the end, with Eduardo saving from Ramos and Villa, while the impressive Llorente headed wide.
But one goal was enough for them to secure victory and they look in good shape to go past the last eight, which is as far as they have progressed at a World Cup since they finished fourth in Brazil in 1950.