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Euro 2012 - Spain VS Portugal Semi Final

Spain see off Iberian rivals Portugal on penalties in Donetsk to reach Euro 2012 final

 

Spain VS Portugal Semi Final

Big games are often won by the smallest of margins and Wednesday night’s Euro 2012 semi-final in Donetsk between Spain and Portugal was no exception.

After a gruelling 120 minutes of play, the contest went down to a nail biting penalty shoot-out from which Spain prevailed when Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves missed from the spot.

And there were a couple of controversial moments when matters got serious, most notably the fact that Portuguese captain and star man Cristiano Ronaldo did not take a penalty after assumedly waiting to take the final spot kick – by which time Spain had already sealed a 4-2 victory.

Cesc Fabregas’ scored the crucial winner, leaving a visibly desolate Ronaldo wondering why he didn’t step up first.

It was Alves’ miss that opened the door for Fabregas to take the glory and in truth it was no surprise that the giant Zenit defender smashed the ball anxiously against the cross bar.

Alves had previously stepped forward to hit the third penalty, only to be turned away by Nani after Portugal had seemingly messed up the running order which they had decided after extra time.

An already nervous Alves found himself under even more pressure when returning to the spot light and Portugal’s bizarre mishap ended up costing them dearly.

In the end, Spain arguably deserved to go through as they did edge proceedings by the time the final whistle arrived.

Portugal began soundly enough, closing Spain down at every opportunity and fighting fire with fire by launching frequent counter-attacks.

Although Iker Casillas had little to worry about between the posts, Portugal’s intent and effort alone meant that Spain were going to have to change their game plan in order to cut through and indeed the Portuguese pressure forced a rather direct approach.

It was no surprise nevertheless that Portugal started to tire late in the day and indeed Paulo Bento’s side really began to wilt in extra time.

Spain were clicking for the first time in the game and attacking with the flair and panache which European football has become accustomed to seeing over the past few years.

Portugal were out on their feet, but managed to hold on only to preserve the inevitable in the end with Spain on the whole comfortable in the shoot-out.

Indeed, centre back Sergio Ramos even decided to replicate Andrea Pirlo’s audacious chip against England and the Real Madrid lynchpin executed with aplomb.

So Spain’s title defence rolls on and they will now face either Germany or Italy in the final in Kiev on Sunday.

Whilst Vicente Del Bosque’s side have consistently failed to sparkle up front throughout the tournament, their defence has perhaps been their core strength having conceded just one goal so far.

With that in mind, a tactical, chess-like affair could be in prospect come Sunday evening regardless of their opponents and it should be a very intriguing occasion with defences likely to come out on top in the ninety minutes.