Tens of thousands of fans sang “Viva Espana” and danced in the streets in Madrid on Saturday as Spain overcame Paraguay to move into the semi-final of the World Cup.


A crowd which watched the match on giant screens outside Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium exploded with joy and relief as David Villa scored with just minutes to go to give the team a 1-0 victory.

Earlier, joy had turned to frustration as both sides missed penalties.

“The referee stole some of the match but Spain is a strong enough team to win,” said Alejandro, an 18-year-old student. “Let’s go. Viva Espana!”

“Spain deserved to win after those penalties,” said Jaime, another young fan.

“We didn’t do much in the first half but Spain sorted itself out in the second half,” said Laura, a journalist.

After the match, the fans, many with their faces painted in Spain’s red and gold colours, spilled out into Madrid’s main Paseo de Castellana avenue, blocking traffic, blowing plastic horns and cheering.

Car drivers honked their horns as passengers waved Spanish flags from the windows.

The fiesta atmosphere was set to last through the night and into Sunday morning.

“Into the semi-finals, after some suspense,” the El Mundo daily said on its website.

“It was hard for us,” Villa told Spain’s Canal + television after the match, which takes Spain through to meet Argentina.

In Villa’s hometown of Truilla, in the northern region of Asturias, residents were overjoyed at the striker’s fifth goal of the tournament.

“People came out into the streets shouting “Truilla, Truilla, Truilla, Villa maravilla (marvellous town)”, one of his uncles told Spanish national radio.

“The whole family watched the match, we were very nervous and we ended up crying and laughing with joy,” he said.