Spain reach final as Portugal pay the penalty

Portugal 0 Spain 0 (aet; Spain win 4-2 on penalties)

Cesc Fabregas converted the decisive spot-kick as Spain reached the final of Euro 2012 after a nail-biting penalty shoot-out victory over Portugal in Donetsk.

Fabregas fired his shot in off the post to send Spain through after Bruno Alves had hit the bar for Portugal.

Earlier, Cristiano Ronaldo had missed a good chance to put Portugal through in the last minute of normal time while Portugal keeper Rui Patricio made superb saves to deny Jesus Navas and Andres Iniesta in extra-time.

The Spaniards had started better, and ought to have gone ahead from their first chance in the ninth minute when Manuel Negredo pulled the ball back for Alvaro Arbeloa to fire over the bar from the edge of the box.

Andres Iniesta blazed over from long range a minute later, but Portugal threatened in the 13th minute through Ronaldo, who beat Gerard Pique down the left before crossing towards Nani, with Iker Casillas jumping to make a crucial interception.

Paulo Bento's men had clearly wrested the upper hand, suffocating the Spanish midfield and worrying their opponents through the persistent threat of Ronaldo and Nani up front.

But Spain still almost contrived the grab the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute, when Xavi's clever ball found Iniesta on the edge of the box, who rolled the ball onto his right foot before floating a shot inches over Rui Patricio's goal.

Within two minutes, Portugal had responded with an even better chance, Joao Moutinho's persistence paying off on the edge of the box as he set free Ronaldo to drill a low shot just wide of Casillas left hand post.

Portugal's control continued into the second half, with Nani almost picking out the head of Hugo Almeida from a dangerous right wing cross, and it proved enough for Vicente Del Bosque, who replaced Negredo with Fabregas up front.

Almeida wasted a good chance in the 58th minute when he fired ambitiously over the Spanish bar instead of picking out Ronaldo or Nani, who were unmarked to his left and right respectively.

Belatedly, Spain started to show signs of stirring, Xabi drilling a shot straight at Patricio from long range, but despite beginning to edge possession, chances continued to be few and far between.

Ronaldo, still terrorising the Spanish defenders at every opportunity, fired a free-kick just over from 30 yards, but a game that had started brightly drifted into a dull spell in which neither side could serve up much of a threat.

Then came a glorious chance for Ronaldo in the last minute of normal time, when a Portuguese counter-attack saw Raul Meireles feed the Real Madrid man who fired over the bar from the left side of the box.

The introduction of Pedro lent some urgency to the Spanish attack in extra-time, and his run set up a chance for Iniesta in the seventh minute of the extra half hour, but his low shot was blocked in the box.

The Portuguese were plainly tiring, and Spain had an even better chance in the 104th minute, when Jordi Alba's cross found Iniesta in front of goal but Patricio managed to flap his shot wide from six yards.

Sergio Ramos slammed a long-range free-kick just over the bar before the end of the first period of extra-time, and Ramos was soon in critical action at the other end when cutting out a Fabio Coentrao ball meant for Ronaldo.

Substitute Jesus Navas was next to get the chance to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute of extra-time, picking up a ball from Arbeloa in the box and hitting a shot which Patricio did well to save down low.

As Spain kept pressing, Pedro briefly burst clear before being caught by Fabio Coentrao, but by then there was a certain inevitability about a match that promised much but offered little heading to penalties.

Alonso had the first spot-kick saved by Patricio but Casillas evened things up by saving the first Portuguese penalty from Moutinho.

Iniesta, Pepe, Pique, Nani and Sergio Ramos all put away their penalties before Alves - who had inadvertently stepped up for the previous penalty which was eventually converted by Nani - hit the bar, leaving Fabregas to put Spain through.

 

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'