Spain, Portugal Fly Flag for Faltering Europeans

Manila Bulletin, June 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

Spain, Portugal Fly Flag for Faltering Europeans


JOHANNESBURG, June 25, 2010 (AFP) - Spain set-up a mouthwatering World Cup showdown with Portugal on Friday, but Europe's challenge in South Africa still wilted to an all-time low.

Only six European sides have qualified for the last 16, a depressing statistic for the sport's financial engine room made worse by the shock first round exits of holders and four-times champions Italy as well as 1998 winners France.

Just two European former champions remain with three-time winners Germany facing 1966 champions England on Sunday.

European champions Spain, one of the favourites for the title, finished top of Group H with a 2-1 win over Chile, who must tackle five-time champions Brazil, while Switzerland and Honduras, who drew 0-0, were eliminated.

Earlier Brazil and Portugal drew 0-0 in Group E, a result which saw Ivory Coast, who saw off North Korea 3-0, knocked out.

Ghana, who face the USA on Saturday, are the only African nation left in the tournament, the first to be staged on the continent.

New Barcelona singing David Villa grabbed his third goal of the World Cup to set Spain on their way, taking advantage of an embarrassing blunder by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who sprinted out of his goal to leave Villa with a target to hit from 40 yards.

Andres Iniesta hit the second goal with Chile midfielder Marco Estrada red-carded for a trip on Fernando Torres in the build-up.

Second-half substitute Rodrigo Millar pulled a goal back in the 47th minute for Chile who finished behind Spain on goal difference.

"The match against Portugal will not be easy," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

"But we are progressing. Fernando Torres played 60 minutes, Iniesta felt fine. We are in good shape. …

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