It’s viva South America, heartbreak for Asia | sports | Hindustan Times
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It’s viva South America, heartbreak for Asia

sports Updated: Jun 30, 2010 00:05 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

The South American show in South Africa's World Cup continued with Paraguay becoming the fourth team from the continent in the quarter-finals. If Chile couldn't make it that far it was only because they ran into Brazil.

The sun set on Asia, but that Yuichi Komano's penalty thudding into the horizontal made the difference, showed how close they were to staying on. No Paraguayan missed in the tournament's first tie-breaker.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada, 53, can now go back to farming, as he has said he wants to. Japan fell two rounds short of his prediction, but the Loftus Versfeld crowd, which drummed up enthusiasm for them, will know how close the Blue Samurai were to a quarter-final berth.

Japan ended the first half strongly, and Paraguay began the second that way, but neither team showed the spark in the front third that could have yielded goals.

Before being replaced by Nelson Valdez to add width to the left, Edgar Benitez twice went around Komano to see himself in a good position. It was Cristian Riveros though, whose header went straight to Kawashima, who had the best chance near the hour-mark. Markus Tanaka and Lucas Barrios then traded off-target headers off corner-kicks.

Symptomatic of the second half and extra-time, which promised much but delivered little, was Yashuhito Endo's long free-kick, headed square for Tanaka, who failed to make a connection. As if it was part of a plan, Japan won a number of free-kicks but no blue shirt could get to the end of Endo's deliveries.

But for an error in judgment on the part of Keisuke Honda, Japan's dyed-hair hero, they could have ended the first half in front. A neat three-pass move on the right had Daisuke Matsui moving into space and towards the Paraguay goal. Matsui squared to Honda who went for goal instead of passing to Yoshito Okubo, who was screaming for the ball.

Japan showed a desire to test Paraguayan goalie Justo Villar from long range. Komano tried from the right, as did Okubo, but the best effort came from Matsui whose shot thudded into the horizontal.

Paraguay's best chance came in the 20th minute when Barrios turned swiftly but shot into goalie Eiji Kawashima. It wasn't till the 53rd minute that they had another good look on goal but then, Nestor Ortigoza's strong run was stopped before he could shoot.