The World Cup got down to serious business Saturday and two countries used to serious soccer moved into the quarterfinals.
Germany and England advanced in the first two of the eight second-round matches that will played over the course of four days -- the Germans doing so thanks to a single shot near game's end in a 1-0 victory over Paraguay and the English putting on a dominating performance in the rain to oust Denmark, 3-0.
American coach Bruce Arena, meanwhile, issued another round of thanks to South Korea for producing the result that allowed the United States to make it through to the second round. A 3-1 loss to Poland appeared to have knocked Team USA out of the World Cup Friday, but a late goal by South Korea's Ji-Sung Park gave his side a 1-0 victory over Portugal and sent the Portuguese home instead of the Americans.
"I spent the morning shopping for the Korean team and coaching staff," Arena said Saturday. "We thank them for doing so well."
After 15 days and 48 matches in group play, the second round began Saturday in Seogwipo, located on the island of Jeju-do at the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. In that setting, however, the Germany-Paraguay match attracted only enough of a crowd to fill barely half of the 42,256-seat stadium.
"It was a difficult match, playing in the afternoon with the sun shining," said German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. "The atmosphere is not the same. It's not the atmosphere you'd expect for a round of 16 match at the World Cup."
Those who were there waited through 88 minutes of soccer before seeing the lone goal of the day, one coming from Oliver Neuville. From eight yards out, Neuville finished a cross from club teammate Bernd Schneider.
"I believe we were the better team today," said German coach Rudi Voeller, "but we have to look at the tournament realistically. We came here knowing we're not a team that can put other teams up against the wall.
"Our goal has been to reach the semifinals. We have to maintain our modesty."
Kahn, however, was not ready to be modest.
"Everything is possible now," he said. "It's thoroughly possible we can go all the way. We didn't play soccer in the first half. We booted the ball blindly downfield. In the second half we decided to play soccer."
Since 1978, when West Germany failed to make it out of its second-round group in a much different tournament format, the Germans have reached the quarterfinals in every World Cup.
They played for the championship three straight times and, after falling in the title game to Italy in 1982 and Argentina in 1986, finally defeated Argentina in 1990.
But in the last two World Cups, Germany has lost in the quarterfinals to Bulgaria and Croatia. Its quarterfinal match this time will be against either Mexico or the United States.
"Both are very good teams and I do not mind who we play," said Voeller. "All the teams left had a very good first round. It doesn't make any difference who we play next."
At the end of the game, Paraguay's Italian coach Cesare Maldini, who at 70 was the oldest in this World Cup, announced he would resign and return to Italy as a scout with AC Milan.
"It was a very, very even game," Maldini said. "There weren't many scoring chances on either side. Most of the game took place in the midfield and suddenly there was a beautiful run on the right and a beautiful goal."
England's win over Denmark came in Niigata, Japan, where rain came down in buckets during much of the first half. That was also when the English put the game away, scoring three times before intermission.
The first goal came just five minutes into the contest when David Beckham, whose penalty kick against Argentina was the most critical England goal of group play, found Rio Ferdinand for a header at the far post. It appeared Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen would be able to stop it, but it slithered from his grasp and across the line.
Michael Owen drilled another one home in the 22nd minute on a low cross from Trevor Sinclair and Emile Heskey, with the heaviest of the rain coming down in the 44th minute, powered a shot into the net on the end of another Beckham pass.
England's reward for reaching the quarterfinals could well be a match against Brazil, which has emerged as the tournament's favorite with the elimination of Argentina, France and Portugal in the group portion of the event.
Brazil plays Belgium in the second round Monday and a victory in that one would set up a Brazil-England quarterfinal next Friday. And if that does turn out to be the matchup, the winner will be the decided favorite to reach the championship game since the other half of the bracket is made up of Sweden, Senegal, Japan and Turkey.
Senegal and Sweden will meet Sunday in one of the second-round games, that taking place in Oita. The evening contest will find Spain and Ireland meeting in Suwon.