Day 3 in numbers
After a dramatic day of FIFA Confederations Cup action that witnessed records crash in Mangaung/Bloemfontein and hopes revived in Rustenburg, FIFA.com and Castrol Insights look closer at the numbers behind the results.
Their qualification may have been fully expected, but Spain nonetheless made history today in reaching the semi-finals of a senior FIFA competition. After all, since finishing fourth at the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, La Roja have not managed to advance beyond the last eight in any of their 11 attempts. Indeed, the last time they played in a senior FIFA tournament as European champions - at England 1966 - they were eliminated in the first round. In racking up their 14th straight win, Vicente del Bosque's side also claimed a share in the record for successive victories, and can seize sole ownership, surpassing Brazil, Australia and France, with a reverse of South Africa on Saturday.
However, the hosts proved today that they will be no pushovers. The scoreline might not have been as emphatic, but their stranglehold over a demoralised New Zealand was every bit as firm as the grip Spain had held. The All Whites, in fact, managed twice as many efforts on goal against La Roja as they did this evening (eight to four), while Kiwi keeper Glen Moss was called into action ten times this evening compared to nine against Torres and Co.
After inadvertently denying his side victory with that unfortunate goal-line block against Iraq, Bernard Parker celebrated redemption in spectacular style. A natural choice as Budweiser Man of the Match, the South Africa No17 defied his critics with a purposeful performance in which he grabbed both Bafana Bafana goals and hit the target with all five of his efforts on goal. The Crvena Zvezda forward's brace also leaves him just short of averaging a goal in every two internationals, with seven strikes in his 15 games to date.
Parker was not the day's only striking hero, however. A clinically-dispatched header took David Villa past Fernando Hierro as the second-top scorer in Spain's history and left him to target Raul's impressive all-time record of 44. Villa's goal also witnessed left-back Joan Capdevila continue his excellent start to the FIFA Confederations Cup, with a third assist in just two matches.
Just one goal separated Spain and Iraq today but, in terms of these sides' distribution and ball retention, a far greater gulf exists. After misplacing two out of every five passes against South Africa, the hard-working Iraqis were once again left to look on enviously as Xavi and Xabi Alonso showed them how it should be done at the Free State Stadium. Alonso, a worthy Budweiser Man of the Match, played an incredible 106 passes during the match, 82 per cent of which found a team-mate. Compare this to the top Iraqi player, Ali Hussein Rehema, who passed the ball just 50 times and boasted a considerably less impressive success rate of 66 per cent.
Did you know?
No fewer than 32 different national leagues are represented at South Africa 2009. Italian clubs account for the highest number of players (24), three and four more than Spanish and English ones respectively.