It's not exactly the glamour tie of the round, this, on the face of it. But then are we looking for glamour in the right places? Did jogo bullshitto media darlings Brazil, for example, entertain a single viewer last night when they once again showcased their ersatz Mourinhoesque stylings to the world? Did they really?
No, is the answer to that question. No they didn't.
Japan, on the other hand, have someone in their ranks who's earned himself the nickname of The Japanese Maradona. O ho! O ho! Now that's more like it.
Paraguay haven't been quite as jazzy, it must be said, keeping it staunch at the back and doing what they can, when they can up front. Still, they finished top of a group including world champions It... actually, that isn't much to crow about, is it. Here, Roque Santa Cruz is due a goal, though. So let's hope for the best this afternoon. Let's hope for a classic.
Neither of these teams have much of a pedigree in the World Cup, it must be said. Paraguay competed in the very first, the Montevideo festival o'foot in 1930, but were quickly put in their place by the USA, who trounced them 3-0. Visits to the 1950 and 1958 World Cups were totally fruitless, save a win in the latter tournament over - oh, take a wild guess. They didn't make it again until 1986, when they wheeched past the groups for the first time, only for Peter Beardsley to run rings around them in the second round.
They've raised their qualification game since, though, and this is their fourth finals in a row. They've made the second round twice - in 1998 and 2002, conceding the first-ever World Cup golden goal in the former, to Laurent Blanc and France - while you may also recall them losing narrowly last time round to tournament regulars Embarrassing English Shower.
This is Japan's fourth finals in a row, too. But unlike Paraguay, the 1998 finals in France were their first ever. They had little to write home about in any of their first three appearances, given that the only time they reached the second round, in 2002, they already were home.
Kick off, with the Fifa Kick Off Ball, taken from the Fifa Kick Off Ball Plinth: 3pm.
The stadium: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.
On a hiding to nothing now the media have a sniff of blood: Frank de Bleeckere (Belgium)
What Paraguay will need to have on: The battle fever.
What Japan will need to have: The battle fever on.
Paraguay make three changes from the shower who drew 0-0 with New Zealand, dropping Nelson Valdez and Denis Caniza and bringing in Edgar Benitez and Nestor Ortigoza, while replacing the suspended Julio Cesar Caceres with Antolin Alcaraz, who returns after injury: Villar, Bonet, Da Silva, Alcaraz, Morel Rodriguez, Vera, Ortigoza, Riveros, Santa Cruz, Barrios, Benitez.Subs: Diego Barreto, Veron, Caniza, Julio Caceres, Cardozo, Edgar Barreto, Santana, Torres, Haedo Valdez, Bobadilla, Gamarra.
An unchanged Japan side, this lot having started all three of their games so far: Kawashima, Komano, Nakazawa, Tanaka, Nagatomo, Matsui, Abe, Endo, Hasebe, Honda, Okubo.Subs: Narazaki, Uchida, Okazaki, Shunsuke Nakamura, Tamada, Yano, Iwamasa, Kengo Nakamura, Konno, Morimoto, Inamoto, Kawaguchi.
ITV have kicked off their coverage of this match with a discussion about England, that phantom Frank Lampard goal, and video refereeing. FOR GOD'S SAKE. Andy Townsend has just, without irony, opined that Fifa are "lucky this sort of thing hasn't happened in a World Cup final". You simply could not script it. And nor would you want to.
Plinth pleasure: "I love the word plinth and can't stop saying it," admits Don Topaz. "I don't know if it's the sound or the feeling of joy when putting the letters together. Only problem arises when I try to make a plural. Impossible to say 'plinths' without having an embarrassing trail of spittle on my lower lip. What will I do when the World Cup is over and the word disappears for four years?" How about getting a job at your local supermarket? The displays on the end of the aisles, the ones with the special offers on, are called plinths. At least they were at Sainsbury's back in the day when I had a Saturday job there. You'd take off the week's old offers - say two cartons of pure orange juice for the price of one - then readjust the height of the shelves for the next week's bargain. Cheap tins of peas, perhaps. Midway through the process you'd notice it was the end of your shift, then go home leaving the job half done, unwrapped trays of orange juice and peas all over the place. Tesco are the number one supermarket now, I think. Anyway, the ball's been pickity-plucked from its PLINTH by the referee, and the teams are out on the field listening to their national anthems. Neither is up to much, tell the truth. Japan's is so laid back it's at a slower tempo than Brian Eno's Music for Airports.
Anyway, we're off! Japan, in blue, get things going. Within 20 seconds, Okubo cuts inside from the left and hammers an opportunistic effort from 30 yards. It flies miles wide, but it's an early shot across Paraguay's bows.
2 min: Paraguay - red-and-white stripes down the front, red on the back, an international Sheffield United - pass it around a bit. Matsui kicks Riveros into the air like an old sock. That could easily have been a yellow, but the referee is playing it cool for now.
4 min: Another long shot from Japan, this time Honda taking a skelp from the right wing. Villar is well behind it. "One consolation of the ludicrously and undeservedly high wages paid to England's golden generation is that they are so rich they won't need to go into punditry," smiles a cheery Jim Adamson, so cheery he's possibly about to tip over the edge and go on a wee spree now the boys are back in the country. "We are thus spared the indignity of finding out whether or not Gerrard or Terry would be as colossally terrible as Andy Townsend. As bad as he is, it can hopefully get no worse." I'll be tuning into the news.
7 min: Paraguay are passing it around a lot. They win a corner down the left, but waste it. Then Santa Cruz whips a decent ball in from the right, only for Benitez and Riveros to clatter into each other at the far post while attacking the ball. The cross flies out of play on the left, Japan clearing with a throw. Anyway, hold on, it's not Jim Adamson but Sam Hedges who's about to lose the place completely. "Can you please refrain from printing any more Andy Townsend quotes?" he screeches. "That one has made me that bit angrier inside and I'm not sure how much more I can take before I become totally useless at work. What's up with our football pundit system! How come we produce idiot after idiot, each new generation promising insight, elucidation and words of wisdom. But all we get is another shower of inanity and stating-the-bleedin-obvious. Surely other countries don't have these problems, do they?" I have a terrible feeling about the turn this report is likely to take.
10 min: Morel hoicks a free kick into the Japanese area from 40 yards or so. It sails straight into the hands of Kawashima. Japan started brightly, but it's Paraguay enjoying most of the play now. "It's no surprise Townsend has no understanding of the words that come out his mouth and happens to forget 1966," writes Richard Williams (no, not that one). "Lest we forget - as much as he tries to say 'we' when talking about England - he was a laughably poor Englishman to begin with. I think you can make out the captain's armband no less on that Irish kit of his."
14 min: A Japanese free kick 40 yards out, level with the left-hand side of the box. Endo loops it in. Nakazawa gets a head to it, but only manages to send the ball sailing out towards the corner flag. He makes off in hot pursuit of the ball, only to accidentally handle the thing the second he reaches it. Danger over. "As a dedicated Sheffield United fan, I would like to apologise to Paraguay for the inevitable slump in form they will experience whilst wearing our kit," writes Justin Spencer. The Guardian's John Ashdown, son of the steel city, has beaten you to it, Justin, wandering around the office wearing only a red-and-white cilice.
17 min: There's not really much going on here. "I've got Paraguay in a sweepstake and their lack of elimination to date has given me a nasty case of pointless hope," sighs Louise Wright. "Can you confirm that they've not got a chance in hell and that I have, in fact, chucked my two quid down the drain, please? I got UK in the Eurovision sweepstake, so it wouldn't be the first time." Well, the winner of this game gets to play either Spain or Portugal in the quarters. Better teams for sure, but both capable of completely forgetting to turn up on the day. Does that make you feel better or worse?
20 min: Suddenly, an explosion of action, Barrios turning and breaking clear into the Japanese area down the inside-left channel and flicking a low effort towards Kawashima. The keeper saves with his legs, Komano slicing the loose ball clear. And then down the other end...
22 min: Matsui hits a first-time right-footed effort at goal from 25 yards, dead central. The ball loops up and over the keeper, dropping down at the last and twanging off the crossbar and out. What a shot! This game has come to life at last.
25 min: A nice open feel to this game now. Paraguay are lifting balls into the Japanese area from both sides, Bonet and Morel taking turns to slightly overhit crosses. "Seeing as you referred to Paraguay being an international Sheffield United based on their kit colour, do you also think that they will act like the Blades off the pitch?" wonders Michael Laycock. "Possibly trying to sue Argentina and Carlos Tevez if they lose this game?"
28 min: A Paraguay corner from the left. There's an almighty scramble eight yards out, fairly central, before the ball drops to Santa Cruz. Just about everyone in the area's lying on the floor, so it's a great chance - but he pulls his shot wide right. That's a real waste. "The problem with English football punditry is that there's no proper training scheme or grass roots organization," blasts David Ward. "Young lads never learn how to complete a sentence, string a few words together, create a coherent argument. Instead they're just pitched onto the microphone and encouraged to whack a few sentences straight down the middle and smash into any adverbs that cross the centre line. No coherence, no sense of shape or purpose. Disgrace really."
31 min: Japan are sitting back a lot now, inviting a bit of pressure. Whenever they get the ball, it's quickly lost the minute they get over the halfway line. Meanwhile Alex Gemmell reckons that the displays on the end of the aisles in supermarkets, the ones with the special offers on, are now called "gondola ends". This sounds like needless fancy modern management chat to me. What's wrong with "plinth"? When did this happen? I'm glad I got out of the supermarket game when the going was good.
34 min: Japan finally put a few passes together, Honda sashaying down the left and looping a cross into the centre for Okubo. Alcaraz stands tall to slap a header upfield.
36 min: Endo swings a delicious free kick into the area from the left. With Honda and Okubo lurking, it's down to Santa Cruz to clear, sending a diving header wide left of goal behind for a corner. From it, Japan immediately lose the ball, Paraguay breaking upfield and nearly releasing Barrios into the area from the right.
40 min: From the right wing, Japan string a couple of passes inside, Hasebe to Matsui to Honda, who unleashes a shot just before he reaches the area. The effort sails wide of the left post, but not by much. A decent enough strike. "Do golden generations become silver generations as they age then bronze generations as they turn to crap?" wonders Sean Welch.
43 min: A lot of aimless passing. This is a strange game: regular bursts of entertainment at either end, long passages of tedium. It's quite compelling. "What you once knew as plinths are indeed called gondola ends and the central aisle down the middle of the store is called 'The Power Aisle'," reports Roger Coleman, on a world I no longer recognise. "There are some people who only shop the power aisle as they are only interested in special offers."
HALF TIME: Paraguay 0-0 Japan. The referee blows his whistle and makes for his dressing room with extreme haste. Not much to report: I've seen better games, I've seen worse. Tum te tum. "Last time I was in the grocery biz," begins Chris Mullen, "they were called 'end caps' (this was the late 80s, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the USA, when I was a teenager). I figure it was a pretty official name since 'end cap' has no connection to French, Cajun, or Southern. We said 'make groceries' for God's sake, so surely we'd have localized it if we could've." I couldn't have dreamt this, though, surely? They must have been referred to as plinths once, in one supermarket, somewhere?
And we're off again! Paraguay pass it around the back. A lot. "Just to confirm that the term 'gondola ends' is not that new," writes Robert Harrison, who may as well be sticking a knife in and twisting it. "I used to work for a certain French sports store eight years ago where they were called 'TG's (Tete de Gondole), where each one was strictly monitored in terms of the turnover it generated. So maybe they came from there."
48 min: Japan are sitting back, perfectly happy to let Paragauy knock it around in the centre. They've showed not a second of adventure in this half so far, but then we've only just started it. "Thanks for the reminder about Eno's airport music," writes Howard Davies. "I'm working on a mix in which its playing as the background over video of England's World Cup play. It really is beautiful to watch." I'm sure it is. I've always wondered whether Robert Wyatt's haunting piano line would be improved by images of John Terry arguing with a baggage handler.
50 min: Ortigoza glides into the box from the left, scooting across the face of goal, 15 yards out. He can't make enough space to get a shot in, Nagatomo eventually sliding in to take the ball off him and hack clear. "Plinths do exist but I think they are a bit different," reports Roger Coleman. Thank Jack H Cohen for that. I thought I was going totally insane.
53 min: Japan are set up to soak up pressure and attack only occasionally on the break. Once or twice Honda and Hasebe have attempted to tear upfield, but they don't get very far before losing the ball. "I also worked in Sainsbury's as a teenager in the early 80s. I was also responsible for redoing the plinths on a Saturday afternoon. Whether I was more dedicated, or maybe I just started earlier, but I can't remember ever leaving a plinth unfinished, tut tut! I remember I felt quite responsible when I was first given that job, better than just filling the shelves" - Kavin Wakley. In my defence, I had about an hour to do them all. There was no way it was ever going to happen. And I had to rewrap all the unsold trays of special-offer pure orange juice in plastic. It was a nightmare, basically. I should have probably made it a union matter.
55 min: Benitez reaches the edge of the Japanese area down the inside-left channel. For a second, he's only got Kawashima to beat, and takes a shot - but he's not quick enough, Nakazawa sliding in to clear for a corner. From which Tulio heads clear purposefully.
58 min: Matsui is booked for supplying Currys with really crappy own-brand video recorders in the 1980s kicking the ball away upon conceding a free kick. "When I worked in Safeways about 16 years ago, plinths were small black portable objects that merely raised the product off the ground," writes Matt Rice. "They could be positioned anywhere and a display usually consisted of 4-6 of them. They were definitely not confined to the aisle ends."
60 min: Santa Cruz curls one onto the penalty spot from the left. Morel gets his head to it and sends it goalwards, but there's no pace on the effort and Kawashima claims easily. "They are definitely called 'gondola ends'," reports Dan Smith. "I'm sorry to say that they're often accompanied by their similarly unnecessarily titled partners in point-of-sale crime: barkers, wobblers, shelf fins and dumpbins." Barkers and wobblers? I hesitate to sound like the hi-fi shopper in the Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch who doesn't believe woofers and tweeters exist, but come on. What do barkers and wobblers achieve, then?
61 min: Benitez is replaced by Valdez.
63 min: Japan win a corner down the right. The ball's whipped into the area, Tulio sending a powerful header wide right. This game hasn't quite taken off, but there's now a real sense that something may give soon.
64 min: A corner for Paraguay now, Barrios conceding a free kick for being all elbows and knees in a melee in the centre. "In order for it to be called a gondola end, does the unit not have actually have to be the end of a gondola (the free-standing shelf islands) as opposed to the end unit of your common or garden aisle shelves?" wonders Adrian Cooper, possibly losing 99.999999% of the very few readers this report probably had left. "We definitely had plinths and I'm fairly sure we also had gondola ends back in my sixth-form supermarket Saturday job days."
66 min: Matsui is replaced by Okazaki.
68 min: A ball's hoicked into the Japanese area from the right. There's no danger to Japan, in football terms, but Tulio is kneed in the face by his own keeper Kawashima, and hurts his arm while he falls to the ground to boot. Ooyah, oof. That'll hurt alright. "I thought I was being more rueful than swivel-eyed in my pre-match observations about punditry, but now I'm really angry about gondolas and supermarket aisles," writes Jim Adamson, the up-and-coming star of tonight's news. "Why did no one tell us there's a power aisle where all the special offers are? Why does The Man keep it a secret and make us all pay over the odds for our groceries?" I don't think my local supermarket even has a power aisle, it's not big enough. They're just taunting us, basically. Playing with us, teasing us, we're the balls of wool to J Sainsbury's kitten.
70 min: A beautiful reverse pass down the inside-right channel by Honda releases Okazaki, who sees his low cross bundled out of play excellently by Alcaraz. The corner's wasted. "Is the ongoing debate over the correct nomenclature of supermarket shelves the least inspired MBM riff of all time?" asks Brian Cloughley. "Can't we go back to talking about crisps or something?" And where do you go to buy these crisps, Cloughley? Uninspired MBMs would be nothing without this infrastructure.
72 min: Nagatomo is booked for grabbing himself a handful of Paraguay's Sheffield United shirt. He'll miss the quarter final should Japan progress.
74 min: Morel curls a long ball from the left to the far post. Da Silva tries to guide the ball back to Barrios in the centre, but the excellent Nakazawa manages to clear. Meanwhile in the great plinth debate so beloved of Brian Cloughley, Julia Kite would like to cast her vote for end caps: "As in, they're at the end and they cap off the generally unexceptional aisle with something only slightly more exciting, but ultimately not as great as they seem. The Wayne Rooney of the retail world."
76 min: Barreto replaces Ortigoza.
77 min: It's pretty poor, this, all told. There's more going on in the picture accompanying this report. "All this talk of plinths is making me think of the One and Another installation that Anthony Gormley did on Trafalgar Square earlier this year," writes Matthew Kleebauer, desperately trying to raise the bar here. "Can we not do it again, but instead of members of the public spending an hour at a time up there why not have the England squad take it in turns as an act of contrition? Given their alleged inability to stave off boredom I'd love to see them reduced to tears by having to go sixty minutes without playing ISS."
79 min: Abe is replaced by Kengo Nakamura. "As someone who has 'worked' in various ad agencies for the last 15 years I can confirm that 'barkers' and 'wobblers' are very much a part of the modern-day consumer experience," writes Martin Duckworth, without actually telling us what they are. But he is of some help. "And the bits that stick out into the aisle are called 'bus stops'. It's a lovely sane old world isn't it?"
82 min: Nagatomo digs a cross out from near the left corner flag. Okubo nearly gets his head on it, but only manages to clatter Villar, who punches clear in time. There's a break in play as everyone's sponged down.
85 min: Barrios dinks a clever ball down the right for Bonet to run onto, but Nakazawa is over quickly to cover. The defences have been well on top here. Like you need me to tell you that now. "If we're talking about Brian Eno's ambient music, the track An Ending (Ascent) is definitely a fitting musical representation of England's shambolic World Cup campaign," suggests Andrew Young. That word in brackets is tempting fate bigstyle, though, isn't it?
87 min: Komano hoofs a cross into the area from the right. Okubo and Honda sniff around, but Da Silva leaps high to head clear. "They use the word plinth all the time in the audio-listening world, since it's part of a turntable (remember them?)" writes Marko Packard. "It's the wooden box-like base that the round spinning thing sits on. On the other hand, since the audiophile world has shrunk to the last few dozen people who hate the way that mp3s squash the music, (that would include me) and are resistant to the looming global dictatorship of Apple, maybe plinth doesn't get bandied about as much as it used to."
89 min: Paraguay pin Japan back for a couple of tense minutes, but can't fashion a ball into the box, never mind a chance. This was OK in the first half, but the second half has been totally mind-numbing. Thank the Lord for supermarket chat! Oh aye. "Shelf wobblers are those things stuck on clear plastic strips that hang off shelves and wobble alluringly," says David Shedden. Then what the hell are Bus Stops?
90 min +2: There will be three added minutes of this. Endo swings a free kick in from the right. Nakazawa heads the ball towards the right-hand corner of the six-yard box. Tulio nearly gets his toe to the ball, with only Villar to beat from a tight angle, but can't reach. The danger's gone.
FULL TIME: Paraguay 0-0 Japan. Honda is booked for taking a ball down with his arm on the halfway line. And that's that. We'll have 30 minutes of extra time. Thirty minutes more of this! Come back, Brazil, all is forgiven.
OK, we're off again, the first 15 minutes of extra time. Japan kick things off, their first venture into extra time in a World Cup finals. Paraguay have done this once before, the aforementioned golden goal defeat to France in 1998. Honda doesn't take long to have a dig, the ball looping high and over the bar, deflected by a Paraguayan boot for a corner. The set piece is, like so much that's gone before it, a waste of time. "When my wife worked in Matalans I got a very worried phone call from her manager to tell me that she'd walked into a Dalek at work and had to be taken to hospital," begins Pete Manning. "It turns out that Daleks are those metal poles with multiple hangers for clothes all the way round. In a strange way, I was very dissapointed."
ET 3 min: Barreto's waiting in the centre for a cross onto his head, eight yards out. Valdez tries an elaborate pass through a sea of legs. The attack ends. "If Brian Eno were to soundtrack the England team, should we not be using Here Come the Warm Jets, what with England being piss poor?" asks Adrian Cooper. It's a game-raiser, that one.
ET 4 min: Cardozo replaces the ineffectual Santa Cruz. "Barkers are the little plastic signs that are fitted to the ticket strip," says Nicholas Smith. Finally, the fog lifts.
ET 6 min: This has slipped back into tedium. "In the spirit of pedantry which seems to be pervading this MBM (albeit non-plinth related)," writes John Walker, "if Adrian Cooper lost you 99.999999% of the very few readers this report probably had left, you'd need to have at least 100,000,000 readers, which is quite a lot." I had to get carried away about something.
ET 8 min: Morel cuts in from the left and slips the ball to Valdez, who turns on the edge of the area and slides in, in an attempt to poke the ball past the advancing Kawashima and into the bottom-right corner. The keeper smothers well. For a second it looked like we were getting somewhere at last. But no.
ET 9 min: Endo takes a free kick, 35 yards out to the left. It's a low bouncer, heading towards the bottom-right corner. Villar palms out for a corner. The corner's wasted. There's been more action in the last couple of minutes than there was during the entire second half. "Superb work on the Brueghel link," writes caption lover Eric Schwab. "Right away I noticed the figure in the centre of the painting carrying a vuvuzela and wearing a bafana bafana jersey."
ET 11 min: What a chance for Baretto from a Morel left-wing cross. The ball drops to him six yards out, level with the right-hand post. But all he can do, the ball never quite at the right height for him, is scoop it over.
ET 12 min: Goal, please!
ET 14 min: Endo whips in a free kick from the right. Villar makes a real bloody meal of plucking the ball from the sky, but does so, eventually. "Bus stops are where you stand in line in orderly fashion and wait for a bus to come, and stop so you can get on," says Derek Boshouwers, so you don't have to. "Except in Ireland, where I've seen lines disintegrate into elbow-flinging chaos when the bus door opens."
EXTRA TIME, HALF TIME, and the score is... you know what the score is. We're now up to 105 minutes we'll never get back. "In the land of Team America, the supermarket industry refers to couples who wander the aisles without a shopping list as Mr and Mrs Profit Margin," reports Robert Smith, as good an advert for your local shop as you'll ever read.
And we're off again! For the fourth time this afternoon! Tamada replaces Okubo. Paraguay set things off. "I can't believe that it's taken you until the 12th minute of extra time to ask for a goal," guffaws Damian Wims, somehow failing to note that the spirit was broken long before.
ET 17 min: Nothing's happening! Nothing's happening. "I'd like to question John Walker's logic in ET 6 min," writes John Sims. "I think he's assuming that you lose a compete person at a time – but do any of us claim to concentrate on the MBM 100%? It's much more likely I devote equal time to my work and the MBM, about 0.0000001% of my potential effort to each." So what does that make the readership in the first place, then? My maths isn't very good. Thirty people who aren't really reading it at all? 40? 50? A whopping ton?
ET 19 min: Valdez meets an aimless Morel free kick towards the edge of the area with a weak header. Kawashima catches cleanly. "I saw the vuvuzela in the Bruegel painting too, but did anyone else notice the giant razor blade top right?" asks Richard Browse, running a hot bath and pouring himself a straight pint of gin.
ET 21 min: A loose header from Nagatomo down the right gifts Paraguay a corner. Morel takes. Da Silva gets the back of his head to the ball and sends it out of play on the left. Actually, that might have even come off his shoulder. This is pathetic.
ET 23 min: Endo lumps a free kick in from the right. Tulio heads it well wide left. He's already well wide left when he meets the ball; it was a terrible effort.
ET 24 min: Endo is booked for sliding in late on Vera. There wasn't much in that, but now the Japanese midfielder will miss the quarter final should his side win the upcoming penalty shoot-out. (I mean, nobody's going to score here, are they?)
ET 26 min: A CHANCE!!! Tamada skitters down the left. The ball runs to Okazaki near the byline. He backheels past two Paraguyan defenders, the ball finding Tamada in space with only the keeper to beat. But the ball sticks under Tamada's feet. He tries to find Honda in the centre, but the cross flies to the right wing. The ball's sent back in, Endo heading onto the post, but the offside flag's up. What a chance spurned by Tamada.
ET 27 min: Riveros becomes the latest player to be booked for not particularly much. Ian Marsh would like to lengthen the England/Eno soundtrack with "Blank Frank, Some of Them Are Old, and Driving Me Backward."
EXTRA TIME, FULL TIME: Paraguay 0-0 Japan. It was always going to end like this. Penalties coming up. "All the talk of plinths makes me feel desperately inadequate," writes Alex Lewis. "I was recently mocked for not knowing what the word meant and now I have to deal with this?"
OK, so the penalties are about to get underway. The Paraguayans take turns to hug their keeper Villar, then get in a massive sprawling huddle. Japan get in a huddle themselves, it's much more organised, almost a perfect circle. National stereotypes ahoy! Anyway, a coin is tossed. Paraguay will take the first kick, always an advantage.
Penalties: Paraguay* 1-0 Japan: Baretto slips an excellent kick into the bottom left corner. Kawashima goes the right way, but was never getting it.
Penalties: Paraguay 1-1 Japan*: Endo looks nervous, but hits a great kick, a short run-up and a hoof into the top right. Villar - Paraguay's captain - goes the other way.
Penalties: Paraguay* 2-1 Japan: Barrios strokes a casual one into the bottom right. The keeper nearly got to that.
Penalties: Paraguay 2-2 Japan*: Hasebe hammers one into the top left.
Penalties: Paraguay* 3-2 Japan: Riveros slips an ice-cool penalty straight down the middle. Well, a wee bit to the right. But far from the corner. The keeper was sent the other way.
Penalties: Paraguay 3-2 Japan*: Komano hits the crossbar while going for the top left.
Penalties: Paraguay* 4-2 Japan: Valdez takes Paraguay to match point by welting the ball straight down the middle. The keeper dives to the right.
Penalties: Paraguay 4-3 Japan*: The Japanese Maradona, Honda, steps up and rolls the ball into the bottom left corner, sending Villar the wrong way. Brilliant.
Penalties: Paraguay* 5-3 Japan: Cardozo strokes the calmest penalty you will ever see into the bottom-left corner, sending Paraguay into the quarter finals for the first time in their history!
PARAGUAY WIN 5-3 ON PENALTIES after an 0-0 draw. Komano looks heartbroken, as you'd expect. Paraguay are dancing around like maniacs. They'll face either Spain or Portugal in the quarters. It was a terrible match, but a high-quality penalty shootout at least; even Komano's failed effort was decent enough. The final word on the Great Plinth controversy goes to Michael Cafferky: "I used to work in Waitrose. People always say to me 'oooooooooooooooooooooooooo very posh' but for a supposedly 'posh' supermarket we had no fancy words for anything. We just pointed at stuff, and grunted 'over there, on that bit on the end'."
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