JOHANNESBURG — Spain found just enough of the beautiful game — and a touch of good luck — to advance to the World Cup semifinals, beating Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday night.
David Villa took the tournament scoring lead with his fifth goal, which banked in off both posts in the 83th minute. The goal finished off a brilliant, three-way passing combination that typifies the way the European champions like to play. It sent Spain into the World Cup’s final four for the first time in 60 years.
Spain faces Germany on Wednesday in Durban in a reprise of its 1-0 victory in the Euro 2008 final.
One night after penalty kicks decided Uruguay’s shootout win over Ghana, they were critical in Spain’s victory.
A somewhat subdued match suddenly became chaotic in a two-minute span of the second half. Gerard Pique pulled down Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo in the penalty area on a corner kick, earning a yellow card and giving Cardozo a penalty kick.
With the vuvuzelas reaching a crescendo, the striker who ended the shootout win over Japan was denied brilliantly this time by Iker Casillas, who dived left to block Cardozo’s low kick.
Seconds later, Villa broke free behind the defense and was hauled down by Antolin Alcoraz, who drew a yellow card. Xabi Alonso went to the penalty spot and sent a wicked drive into the net.
Again, the stadium rocked, but referee Carlos Batres of Guatemala waved off the goal, saying a Spain player entered the area too soon.
Given a second chance, keeper Justo Villar guessed correctly, diving left to stop the penalty kick. He also knocked the rebound away from Cesc Fabregas before defender Paulo Da Silva made a leg save at the goal line on another shot.
After that wild sequence, it seemed anything was possible.