After seven Port-u-goals (headline in a local daily here on Tuesday), reputation of Europe's top dogs got another boost late on Monday through David Villa.
Till Monday, when the second set of matches ended, it had been a story of a French revolution and heavyweights losing their way like the English fan, who sought the loo and found the locker room. Over the past few days, Germany stumbled, John Terry mistimed his tackle on Fabio Capello and France imploded leaving only Holland to raise Europe's flag.
Villa showed Barcelona's spending 40m euros for him this summer should be money well spent. Hugging the left touchline to meet the long balls from the middle, Villa showed a sublime piece of skill in the 17th minute cutting in, feinting to his left to beat a challenge before swerving right and beating Osman Chavez. And as the ball slid away from him, Villa fired home.
At an Ellis Park that looked like a red fort with yellow skirting, so overwhelming was the number of Spanish supporters in national colours, the European champions toyed with Honduras. Fernando Torres showboated early and scuffed a chance after Villa found the Liverpool star. Villa then fired a 25-yard drive which rocked the horizontal before Spain threaded the park with a four-man move featuring Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, Xavi Alonso and Villa. Soon after, Alonso tried a 70-yard drive.
Spain were tearing into Honduras. With five midfielders, Honduras tried crowding out Spain in the region they are most creative but their best wasn't good enough.
Villa missed a penalty and with it a chance to join Gonzalo Higuain in the competition's hattrick club after a deflected drive fetched the second and his 40th goal in 60 internationals. Villa denied that the pressure of having lost the first match had anything to do with missing from the spot, saying he knows how to live with pressure.
Villa though was lucky not to be expelled for slapping Emilio Izaguirre in the first half. On Tuesday, FIFA said it wasn't ruling out retrospective action.
But despite rich, clear illustrations of why Spain wowed the world en route to South Africa, the poor goals-for-chances ratio, which cost them the game against Switzerland, continued. Asked if he needs to practice scoring ahead of the must-win game against Chile, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said: "Against Switzerland we were more harmonious but couldn't score. Today, we weren't and scored. That's football." "All Latin American teams and Mexico are playing well. We will have to be a lot more speculative while playing against Chile. It will be a hard game but we have a lot of good players."
Spain have survived the winter solstice and with it the year's longest night here on Monday.
Now, for a new dawn, against Chile on Friday.