Cardozo had the opportunity to give Paraguay the lead in the 59th minute at Ellis Park, but his spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Spain striker David Villa scored with seven minutes remaining to seal a 1-0 win on Saturday night. The Paraguay forward was inconsolable as his team-mates and staff members tried in vain to comfort him.
“I just feel a bit guilty personally because of the missed penalty,” Cardozo said. “If I had scored it could have been different.” Within two minutes of Cardozo’s miss, Spain was awarded a penalty of its own. As the referee pointed to the spot, Cardozo fell to his knees in the center circle and had to be lifted to his feet by forward Nelson Valdez.
“I tried to tell him not to lose hope,” Valdez said. “I told him that the game wasn’t over yet and he would get other chances.” Cardozo hung his head as Xabi Alonso converted the penalty, but was relieved to see the referee order the kick to be retaken because some Spanish players had encroached inside the area.
When Justo Villar saved Alonso’s second attempt, Cardozo ran to his goalkeeping captain and patted him on the head. The reprieve was short-lived. Paraguay’s luck ran out when Villa scored from an attack in which the ball struck a post three times before crossing the line.
At fulltime, Cardozo slumped to the turf before rising and pulling his shirt over his head. Player after player, including Casillas and others from Spain, went to offer sympathy as he wandered round the pitch with a shocked expression on his face.