CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Spain spent most of the night trying to break through Portugal’s defense. David Villa finally did it.
Villa scored off his own rebound in the 63rd minute, giving the European champs a 1-0 victory Tuesday that put them into the World Cup quarterfinals.
In a game where Spain dominated possesion and outshot the Portuguese, Villa took Xavi Hernandez’ heel pass in the 63rd minute. But his left-footed shot was saved by Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo.
He then fired the rebound with his right foot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net — his fourth goal of the tournament — sprinted to the near corner and slid on his knees to the flag, letting out a mighty yell.
Spain plays Paraguay in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
While Villa is tied for the lead in scoring at the World Cup, it was a disappointing tournament for Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player. His only goal came late in Portugal’s 7-0 rout of North Korea in group play, and he had a quiet night against Spain.
The game came two years to the day that Spain ended 44 years of international futility by winning the European title.