FINAL: As for Portugal, their play after the Spanish goal really showed the thinness of their offensive capacity: they know how to counterattack, but not to build anything scary when they start with the ball. Ronaldo finishes the tournament with just 1 goal.
FINAL: Spain 1, Portugal 0. A good result for the Spanish, for offensive soccer, and for World Cup as a whole. I'm still not convinced that Spain is quite on level with Brazil or Argentina, but they'll surely be a more fascinating side to watch in the games going forward.
93 min: A final spell of Pirate pressure is cut short by a saving Puyol header in the six yard box. Got to love the game-closing shot of Ronaldo huffing past the camera, seeming to spit directly in its direction. At least he gets to take his shirt off now.
89 min: Now Ricardo Costa gets a straight red for what may have been a back elbow to Capdevila in the box. ARRRR! Here be pirates.
88 min: Somewhat better from the Portuguese, but Danny's shot is blocked at the front of the box. No word on what happened to Tommy or Johnny.
86 min: Miya thinks the Portuguese have surrendered, mentally; I'm just not sure they have the offensive skill to create anything against this possession-hungry Spanish team. Either way, they look completely feeble.
84 min: Capdevila shoves Ronaldo to the ground on the edge of the box. No foul, even though it looked pretty clearly villainous on the part of the Spaniard.
83 min: Villa gives it away on the left side after too much dribbling. But give him credit: unlike the rest of the Spanish, he really is still trying to score. He just can't help himself.
79 min: Tiago hacks down the Broomed One, earning his second yellow of the Cup. Despite their goal-minded substitutions, Portugal still seem to lack urgency. Ronaldo has been anonymous in this second half.
76 min: What a rocket from David Villa! His right foot is just filled with goals, isn't it? Clearly he's the Player of the Tournament if Spain goes on to win, or maybe even if they lose in the final. Who are the other candidates -- Messi? Kaka? Luis Fabiano? Sneijder, if the Dutch pull a miracle?
75 min: It looks to me like Spain should be able to see this one off in regular time. The Portuguese pirate wannabes have been much less dangerous looking since the Villa goal.
72 min: Liedson in for Simao; the shaggy, sleazy looking Pedro Mendes for Pepe. Between Mendes, Meireles, and Bruno Alves, I'd nominate the Portuguese as the team most resembling a gang of Caribbean Sea pirates.
70 min: Sergio Ramos rips down the right flank, gathers from Iniesta, and really tests Eduardo with a grass-cutting shot from about 20 yards. The goal really seems to have opened things up for the Spanish, here; Portugal looks befuddled.
66 min: Ricardo Carvalho half rips off Llorente's shirt, from the collar down. Evidently even the Spanish subs are making their pitch to fill out Kirk's Hottest XI rankings.
65 min: A worthy goal from Spain, with a nice mix of midfield artistry and finishing tenacity. Villa has to be the Vegas favorite for the Golden Boot at this point.
62 min: YES! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL! Talk about a a premonition (though I suppose it wasn't that hard to predict). Xavi (or was it Iniesta?) flips delicately to Villa, who pounds Eduardo with his first shot but clocks in the rebound.
61 min: Back to back chances for Spain! Llorente's point blank header off a fantastic Ramos cross is aimed into Latin Lover's torso; then Villa's self-created blast from the edge zips just wide. If Spain scores, my money is on him.
58 min: Llorente in for Torres; Danny in for Hugo Almeida. Hm. Surprised not to see the active Navas, but happy to have Danny to kick around. Say it with me again. Danny.
56 min: Casillas punches away another nervy Portuguese attack. The Spanish seem to be a bit less dominant on the ball this half.
53 min: Iniesta's shot at the edge of the box is blocked by Carvalho. I complained about their negative style at the half, but the fact is that the Portuguese D has now held the two most fancied offenses in the world scoreless for almost 150 minutes. After the way the Brazilians blitzed Chile, Portugal's 0-0 draw looks more impressive than ever.
50 min: Ramos's clever run down the right just misses Torres's head in the middle of the 18 yard box. Then, at the other end, Hugo Almeida's solo charge almost deflects of Puyol's knee into the back of the net. Spain are more stylish, but Portugal are more dangerous, I think.
49 min: Miya thinks Portuguese goalie Eduardo looks like a stereotypical Latin lover from a cheesy synchronized swimming-style film from the '40s or '50s. Can't say I'm familiar enough with the genre to say, but he sure is a solid chunk of man.
47 min: Torres's speedy shake-n-bake on the right side is dealt with by Contraeo in a businesslike manner. Get Navas in the game, please: at least he'll throw in a few crosses.
HALF: In games against non-North Korean teams, Portugal has now played 225 straight scoreless minutes. That's far longer than The Postman, but much less eventful. Another reason to hope their avalanche of zeroes is halted before they get any deeper into the Cup.
HALF: Halftime picks, anyone? Miya feels that someone will win it with a goal in regular time, but doesn't know who (she was more decisive about the wedges). Katherine thinks it will be 1-1, and goes no further than that. Alexa, after her comments re: Alexei Lalas, has been banned from the apartment. I'm still sticking cold-bloodedly with Portugal on penalties.
HALF: The new JCrew wedges are deemed "more special." Alexa, meanwhile, explains Lalas's appeal by admitting that she finds him sexy.
HALF: Now Katherine is trying on her new gilded Gladiator sandals to the admiring murmurs of the assembled guests. This afternoon World Cup event here at 2403 is not doing anything to establish the manliness of soccer as a sport.
HALF: Paul, not sure how to embed links in the comments. I think you'll just have to resign yourself to a subordinate role of URL-pasting. John, yeah, I'm pretty sure Ronaldo is all that's left of the Nike campaign. Adidas's mystifying Zidane-as-Emperor-Palpatine thing, though, still has Messi, Villa and maybe a few others.
HALF: ALEXEI LALAS TIME!!!!!!!!!
45 min: A defensive blunder by the neck-tattooed one gives Torres a half-chance in the box. He promptly falls down. If I'm Spain, Navas is coming in straight after half-time.
42 min: Contraeo loops in a gentle cross from the edge of the box, which Tiago meets powerfully with his head, running full steam.... and drills it about 10 feet wide. Still, even though they haven't had much possession, Portugal look about equally likely to score.
41 min: The way this match is shaping up, my 1-1 prediction sounds ambitious. It feels like a single goal might well be enough to see this one home. Penalties, too, are more than a distinct possibility.
38 min: Puyol and Hugo Almeida collide over a header, leaving Puyol collapsed in a brief heap of pain. When he gets up, he's still just the 11th most handsome man on his team.
35 min: Who's so desperate for soccer, during the WORLD FUCKING CUP, that they're tuning in to see the Houston Dynamo play Toronto FC in the MLS this week? Why are they even playing these games? Is Tab Ramos now lining up in midfield for the Dynamo?
33 min: Iniesta, Xavi, Villa et al are still encamped in the center of the Portuguese midfield, but after a while their endless circling begins to feel more like a skill show than a threat to goal. Plus, Kirk's right, the Portuguese penalty kill is pretty good.
31 min: I just checked. Raul Meireles still has a lot of tattoos. Especially on his neck.
27 min: Contraeo earns a free kick, which Ronaldo drives ambitously at goal from 30+ yards. Casillas, though, bobbles it, and there's a scary moment for Spain before Pique heads it out. Iker Iker a nay (like that?) is off to a somewhat shaky start.
25 min: But it's headed out, and another Spanish attack is snuffed out when Xavi's attempt to release Villa into the left side of the box is pushed out of bounds. Paul, do you like how I'm burrowing daintily into this live-blog?
23 min: Iniesta burrows daintily into the back-end of the Portuguese midfield, collapsing in a cul-de-sac and winning a Spanish free kick from 36 meters. Xavi slips in a good ball...
21 min: Casillas's hot-o-meter just took a nose-dive after a weird slo-mo replay shows him flapping his gums spastically. Not quite a Bruno Alves moments, but still weird.
20 min: The best chance of the match so far! On a mini-breakaway, Tiago blasts right at Casillas from about 20 yards, who can only palm the ball straight up into the air. But alone in front of goal, he slaps it away from an onrushing Cristiano Ronaldo and the threat dissipates.
19 min: Hottie El Hotterson backs up the Portoguese defense on the edge of box, but doesn't manage to get a shot off.
17 min: Another series of Spanish midfield passes melts away before threatening the Portuguese final third. Female opinion on Fernando Torres's hotness is unanimously positive.
15 min: The International Feed cuts close up of creepy Portuguese defender Bruno Alves, wearing a wispy mustache and screaming like a maniac. World Cup passion!
12 min: Off a Spanish corner, taken short, Torres floats a cheeky turn-and-lob that almost catches Eduardo off guard, but sails over goal. Female opinion of Xavi's hotness is, so far, somewhat mixed.
10 min: A watershed: our first close-up a peevish Cristiano Ronaldo, who thinks Hugo Almeida should have done better with his cross into the box. In fairness, he's probably right.
8 min: Now Portugal enjoy back to back corners and a spell of pressure. Re: Spanish hotness, Katherine has mounted a strong argument for Sergio Ramos as #2, but is not at all into David Villa and his womb broom.
7 min: Villa once again sneaks into the box on the left side. It's all Spain at the moment, and Villa continues to look like Spain's most dangerous attacker.
6 min: Portuguese keeper Eduardo comfortably snags a Spanish corner. Meanwhile the official LIVE BLOG has been beset by three girls chattering constantly about wedding registries and J.Crew dresses. A truly hostile environment for your humble blogger.
2 min: Villa cranks in another shot, also from Xavi, from an almost identical spot. The keeper is again tested, but nothing develops, and a Portuguese counter is gathered by Casillas.
1 min: Pretty stuff from Spain already. The big fullback Pique back-heels to Xavi, who pilots into the final third and leaves for Torres. The Befreckled one cracks a tight-angled shot at goal that really tests the keeper... maybe his best effort of the Cup so far.
Pre-Match: Spain wearing its candy red and royal blue; Portugal is in white and green.
Today's ref is Hector Baldassi of Argentina.
No real lineup surprises -- Torres continues to start up front, in a suppoesdly Heskey-an role, although we can look for Navas to replace him after about 60 minutes. For Portugal, Simao gets the start over Danny. Which is a shame, because "Danny" really is one of the most awesomely lame single-name monikers of all time.
* Portugal have utterly dominated their Iberian rivals in the past five years: they're 3-0 with 14 goals scored and 1 allowed. Against Andorra. Ha. Andorra.
* Against Spain, it's been rougher sledding: the Spanish have a 15-5-13 lifetime lead. But Portugal won the last really important meeting vs. Spain, in Euro 2004, and are 3-1- vs. Spain 6 in the past 10 games.
* Expect Portugal to be the more aggressive team -- at least as regards violent, physical play. In three games the Portuguese have accumulated 42 fouls and 7 yellow cards, while the Spanish have only 30 whistles and not a single card of any color.
* Re: Portugal's progress through an ill-tempered Group G, it means that five starters today -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiago, Fabio Contreao, Hugo Almeida, and Pepe -- will miss the quarterfinal against Paraguay if they're booked today.