Spain, Germany in semis, S.Americans fizzle out

Germany and Spain set-up a heavyweight World Cup semi-final clash on Saturday as South America's challenge continued to fizzle out.

Miroslav Klose scored twice and edged closer to the all-time World Cup scoring record as Germany crushed Argentina 4-0 in Cape Town while David Villa grabbed his fifth goal of the tournament to help Spain edge Paraguay 1-0 in Johannesburg.

Germany and Spain will meet in Durban on Wednesday in a repeat of the Euro 2008 final, which was won by the Spanish, while Tuesday will see the Netherlands face Uruguay in Cape Town in the other last four clash.

Germany's striker Miroslav Klose (left) scores his team's fourth goal against Argentina during their 2010 World Cup quarter-final match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 3. Germany won 4-0.

A brace from veteran striker Klose and one each from midfielder Thomas Mueller and defender Arne Friedrich were enough to seal the fate of Argentina, a result which forced coach Diego Maradona to admit he was considering his future.

Klose was completing a century of caps and has now claimed 14 goals at World Cup tournaments, the same tally as compatriot Gerd Muller and one less than the record held by Brazilian Ronaldo.

Talk ahead of the quarter-finals was of a possible South American takeover in the first World Cup staged by Africa, but it is Europe who have come to the fore with the Dutch dumping record five-time champions Brazil on Friday.

Although the Germans had won twice and drawn twice in five previous World Cup clashes with the Argentines, no one expected such a lop-sided encounter with the South Americans boasting World Footballer of the Year Lionel Messi.

But Messi rarely threatened to score while another leading marksman at the tournament, Gonzalo Higuain, was equally ineffective.

"We really turned in an incredible showing. Scoring four goals against Argentina you just have to say that that was class. And we closed down Messi very well - without resorting to fouls, so that was great," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

The only blot on Germany's copybook was Mueller's first-half yellow card which sees him suspended for the semi-final.

Maradona admitted the defeat could prompt him to quit the job he took up in November 2008.

"We will see what happens. I haven't thought about leaving, I have to check with my family, with the players. There are a number of things I have to consider," said the 49-year-old.

At Ellis Park, new Barcelona signing Villa struck the winner seven minutes from the end of what had been a disjointed quarter-final performance from the fancied Spaniards in a game that saw both goalkeepers save second-half penalties.

"We didn't play well mainly because we didn't get enough of the ball," said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque.

"We are now amongst the four best teams in the world. Our next opponents are Germany, who are the best team at the moment."

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino said his side paid the price for not taking the opportunities which came their way.

"We had chances but didn't take them. But never mind. I congratulate my players for their progress at the World Cup," he said.

Liverpool forward Fernando Torres remained an isolated figure up front for Spain and it was not surprising that del Bosque replaced him with Cesc Fabregas in the second half.

The quarter-final burst into life around the hour mark.

Paraguay had a golden opportunity to take the lead on 59 minutes when Gerard Pique was penalised for hauling down Oscar Cardozo in the box.

But Cardozo missed the resulting penalty with Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas guessing the right way to make the save.

Incredibly, Spain then went straight up the other end and Antolin Alcaraz was adjudged to have tripped Villa in the area.

Xabi Alonso stepped up to bury the penalty but was ordered to retake it as Spanish players had encroached.

Second time around he changed sides but Justo Villar then guessed right and saved before Sergio Ramos's follow up was blocked on the line.

With the game heading for extra-time, Villa grabbed the game's only goal with his shot going in off the woodwork.

AFP

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