Euro 2012: Spain top Portugal, march into the final
Far from its best, Spain still advanced to another major final on Wednesday by beating Portugal 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw at the European Championship.
Far from its best, Spain still advanced to another major final on Wednesday by beating Portugal 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw at the European Championship. (All AFP and AP Images)
After an attritional game finished 0-0 following extra time, Cesc Fabregas swept home the winning spot-kick to put Spain in the final.
"I played poorly, but the team worked really hard," Fabregas said. "I had this intuition that we could advance if we went to penalties and that's what we did."
In the shootout, Xabi Alonso had the first attempt saved by Rui Patricio.
But Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas then saved Joao Moutinho's shot.
Iniesta then scored for Spain only for Pepe to put Portugal level.
Gerard Pique and Nani also kept it on equal terms as both converted from the spot.
However, Portugal fell behind when Zenit Saint-Petersburg centre-back Bruno Alves slammed his side's fourth penalty against the crossbar after Sergio Ramos had also scored for Spain.
Captain Casillas will be a proud man after Spain reached their third consecutive final of a major tournament.
The Spanish fans are now already eyeing another trophy to add to the 2008 Euro championships and the 2010 World Cup.
After an often dour opening 90 minutes in which the Spanish failed to impress, the match livened up in the 30 minutes of extra time. Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta forced Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio into a superb reflex save in the 103rd minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo had several chances for Portugal, but he sent three shots well over the bar as his team held its own for the entire match.
The Real Madrid star, who came alive with three goals in his last two matches at Euro 2012, did not take a penalty in the shootout. He had been slated to take the fifth one, but he never got that far.
Portugal, however, will take heart from their performance in which they kept the champions on their toes and gave them a very tough fight.