Paraguay 0 (5) Japan 0 (3)

Oscar Cardozo ... scored the winning penalty.

Oscar Cardozo ... scored the winning penalty. Photo: Getty Images

Oscar Cardozo strode to the penalty spot with the nonchalent ease of a man about to take a spot kick in a training game and calmly slotted home to give Paraguay a penalty shoot-out victory over Japan in a round of 16 game that finished deadlocked at 0-0 after 120 minutes of effort and commitment, but too little guile or style.

There was heartbreak for Japanese defender Yuichi Komano, whose penalty hit the crossbar, but justice was done as the South Americans advanced to the last eight for the first time in their history.

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Yuichi Komano misses the sixth penalty during the shoot-out. Click for more photos

Heartbreak for Japan as Paraguay win shoot-out

Yuichi Komano misses the sixth penalty during the shoot-out. Photo: AFP

  • Yuichi Komano misses the sixth penalty during the shoot-out.
  • Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo scores his penalty in the shoot-out.
  • Japan defender Yuichi Komano reacts after missing his penalty during the shoot-out.
  • Nestor Ortigoza of Paraguay is tackled by Yuto Nagatomo of Japan.
  • Roque Santa Cruz of Paraguay looks on as Makoto Hasebe of Japan lies injured.
  • Paraguay midfielder Cristian Riveros is closed down by Japan midfielder Makoto Hasebe.
  • Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios heads the ball as Japan defender Yuichi Komano challenges.
  • Japan midfielder Yasuhito Endo (R) and midfielder Makoto Hasebe (back) challenge Paraguay midfielder Cristian Riveros.
  • Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar makes a save.
  • Paraguayan players surround referee Frank de Bleeckere after a free kick is given against them.
  • Claudio Morel of Paraguay pursues Daisuke Matsui of Japan.
  • Yuto Nagatomo of Japan evades the tackle of Carlos Bonet.
  • Lucas Barrios of Paraguay looks on.
  • Paraguay players celebrate after Oscar Cardozo scores in the penalty shoot-out.

Paraguay had had the better of posession in what had been a frustrating contest, although extra time yielded some excitement as both teams looked to end it before enduring the agony of the penalty shoot out.

Still, on the evidence of this display, the quarter-finals will surely be the summit of Gerardo Martino's team's ambitions.

It was easy to understand why this game remained goalless as both sides struggled to break down the other's defence, neither midfield capable of playing a killer pass to unlock the opposition.

Paraguay had looked slick when drawing with Italy and beating Slovakia, but were subdued against New Zealand. Here they simply lacked a cutting edge, although they rarely looked like conceding either.

Japan had been full of verve and attacking spirit in their group phase victories over Cameroon and Denmark, but against better opposition, they lacked sufficient imagination and wit in the forward third to make the breakthrough, although they too were resolute at the back.

In a scrappy opening half the best two chances fell to the South Americans, who had the majority of posession.

Lucas Barrios made space for himself with a lovely turn inside the Japan area in the 20th minute but Eiji Kawashima saved well with his legs to deny the Paraguay striker.

Ten minutes later Manchester City frontman Roque Santa Cruz stabbed the ball wide after it fell to him following Claudio Morel's corner.

Japan's best effort came moments after Barrios's shot, when Daisuke Matsui's long range drive crashed against the Paraguay crossbar with Justo Villar beaten.