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Paraguay 0-1 Spain

Casillas credits Reina for penalty save

July 4, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Iker Casillas has attributed his penalty save from Oscar Cardozo on Saturday night to the advice of his reserve Pepe Reina, and having overcome Paraguay to reach the semi-finals, the Spain captain now believes his side will face "the best team at the World Cup" in Germany.

Iker Casillas and Jose Reina embrace after defeating Paraguay
GettyImagesIker Casillas and Jose Reina embrace after defeating Paraguay

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Spain were far from convincing in a 1-0 defeat of Paraguay at Ellis Park as Casillas was called upon to deny Cardozo from 12 yards with the score locked at 0-0 after 59 minutes. The Real Madrid 'keeper dived to his left to keep out the penalty and after Xabi Alonso then saw his retaken penalty saved, it was left to David Villa to score the crucial goal, his fifth of the tournament.

Casillas also made a superb save to deny Roque Santa Cruz in perhaps his best performance of the World Cup so far, but was quick to praise Reina for his part in Spain's success. The Liverpool 'keeper conceded two penalties to Benfica striker Cardozo in the Europa League in April.

"The penalty save was incidental," Casillas said. "It was a pivotal moment and I was fortunate enough to save it. To tell the truth I dived that way because I'd been chatting about it with Pepe Reina before the game.

"He said that Cardozo usually hit the ball hard and to his right-hand side. So, it came down to a mix of intuition, good luck and a team-mate's help."

Reina said: "He [Casillas] deserves all the credit because he's the one who saved it. I don't know if I helped or just confused him. I just mentioned it because that's how Cardozo took a penalty against me for Benfica in a game."

Spain have not produced their sparkling best form but find themselves in the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in the country's history. Belief may be growing in Vicente del Bosque's camp but Casillas is wary of facing a Germany side that has demolished both England and Argentina en route to the last four.

"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."