Johannesburg: Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque breathed a sigh of relief Saturday after a late David Villa goal helped Spain overcome a resilient Paraguay 1-0 and make footballing history by setting up a semi-final date against Germany.
"It`s been the toughest and most uncomfortable match but this is what we predicted," said the Spain coach. "Paraguay knocked us out of our stride."
Villa`s goal came in the 83rd minute at Johannesburg`s Ellis Park Stadium but beforehand Paraguay had a goal disallowed and also missed a penalty as the European champions struggled to make it to the last four of the World Cup for the first time in their history.
Xabi Alonso also missed from the spot for Spain after having to retake his penalty, while Iker Casillas saved Oscar Cardozo`s effort for Paraguay and also denied Lucas Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz late on.
"Casillas has been extraordinary, they were two magnificent saves. He certainly contributed to our win," said Del Bosque.
"It`s an absolutely marvellous time for Spanish football. We`ve witnessed this this not just now. For a number of seasons Spanish football has been at the very top."
Villa was, once again, the hero for Spain as the Barcelona player netted his fifth goal of the tournament to move clear one clear of his rivals in the race for the Golden Boot as the World Cup`s top scorer.
"Villa had that hunger for goal that allowed him to convert," said the 59-year-old coach.