Paraguay made it through to the quarterfinals for the first time in history as they hit all five penalty kicks in the shootout to defeat Japan.
With Paraguay up 3-2 in the penalty shootouts, Yuichi Kimano stepped up to keep Japan on par. He lifted a shot the the upper middle part of the net, but the ball rang off the crossbar and out of play.
Kimano’s attempt proved to be the only misfire as Oscar Cordozo, with a chance to win it as the fifth shooter, calmly stepped up and delivered. The striker walked slowly up to the ball, faked to shoot to his right, but instead rolled a slow roller to the opposite corner.
Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima came close on a couple kicks, but was fooled by Cardozo’s approach and jumped in the opposite direction.
The dramatic finish was in stark contrast to the match. Neither team could find the back of the net over 120 minutes of limited scoring opportunities.
Both sides appeared unwilling to take major risks offensively, opting to reduce the chance of giving up a scoring chance rather than creating one.
Despite the lack of results on the scoreboard, both teams came close to getting a goal.
Daisuke Matsui foreshadowed the result of the shootout when he rattled a shot off the crossbar in the 22nd minute, shortly after Lucas Barrios made a low shot in the area that forced Kawashima to make a difficult block.
Few other chances materialized in the affair as defence controlled the game, especially in the two extra fifteen minute frames, when both sides looked for the other to make a mistake to pounce on.
The low-scoring affair should not come as a complete surprise given both teams lack of scoring touch in the opening round. Paraguay potted just three goals in three games to advance to the round of 16, while Japan scored only five.
Paraguay will face the winner of the Spain/Portugal match in the quarters.