Johannesburg: Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas credited his backup Pepe Reina for the penalty save that enabled the European champions to beat Paraguay 1-0 and qualify for their first World Cup semifinal.
Casillas dived to his left to stop Oscar Cardozo`s 59th-minute attempt, and teammate David Villa scored with seven minutes remaining at Ellis Park last night to send Spain through to Wednesday`s match against Germany.
"Pepe Reina had told me Cardozo sent his penalty against him to the left and hard," Casillas said. "His advice paid off."
Reina had failed to save two penalties from Cardozo in Liverpool`s 2-1 loss to Benfica in the Europa League this past season.
Casillas and fellow goalkeeping captain Justo Villar both had standout games.
Villar also saved a penalty - stopping Xabi Alonso`s spot kick in the 61st minute after it had to be retaken because some Spain players had encroached inside the area - and he blocked a late shot from Villa from inside the box.
But Casillas also made an important late save, stopping a shot by Lucas Barrios before punching away Roque Santa Cruz`s attempt from the rebound in the 89th minute.
"Spain needed a game like this, but me not so much," Casillas said. "Sometimes you have to suffer on the field."
Villa said Spain had been inspired by Casillas` performance.
"He was incredible. He brings us such confidence," said Villa, who leads the tournament with five goals. "He gives us such great confidence and we know how many times he`s saved us - not just with the penalty but at the end, too."
Germany crushed Argentina 4-0 in an earlier quarterfinal to follow its 4-1 win over England in the round of 16.Casillas said he expects the Germans to be out to avenge their 1-0 loss to Spain in the 2008 European Championship final.
"I think they are the best team at the World Cup,"
Casillas said. "After what they did to England and Argentina, we have to have maximum respect for them."