'Arbeloa emerged as a bull': Press reaction to Spain's victory over Portugal


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The less than convincing nature of Spain’s victory over Portugal has been met with high praise in the Spanish media as they laud their team’s ability to fight and rally in the face of impressive opposition.

Marca headlined with “Spain's star shines bright”, revelling in the fact that Los Rojas kept playing their game and “in extra-time, the defending champions played better than their opponents” overall deserving their win.

Much has been made in the press of Sergio Ramos’ composed ‘Panenka’ penalty past Rui Patricio. There was much speculation before the shoot-out about whether someone would replicate Andrea Pirlo’s cheeky penalty, although few would have picked out the Real Madrid man to be the one to do so.

Ramos missed a penalty for his club in the semi-final of the Champions League against Bayern Munich, so Spanish nerves were understandably on edge when he stepped up to the spot. But, as Marca comments, the “Panenka penalty spells redemption for Ramos”

In fact Marca raises Ramos above Pirlo, given the pressure of the occasion, celebrating his penalty as if it was the winner: “He has eclipsed the Italian by executing the technique in similar circumstances and with the same composure, in a moment that is sure to be remembered long after the tournament is over”.

However, the ugly side of the match has not been forgotten by the media: “Touchline bust-ups mar semi-final” (Marca)

With all the focus on the controversial appointment of a Turkish referee before the game, a night free from incident seemed unlikely. The Spanish press take care to point the finger solely at their opposition: “The Portuguese bench spent large patches of its semi-final against Spain protesting furiously against the decisions made by Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakir”. (Marca)

AS lauds the national side not only for their patience in overcoming their neighbours, but also for their courage in the face of perceived foul play from the Portuguese: “Champions show patience and nerve to go through to a third final”.

There is clearly unhappiness about the tactics used by Paulo Bento’s men, “It seems nothing scares this Spain team; not even flailing boots and studs”, however the Spanish do concede that Portugal performed just as well as Fabregas and co. and were unlucky in defeat: “For all their dubious kicks that the referee allowed, they were also deserving of a final spot”.

One other moment of controversy caught the eye of AS: “Fabio Coentrao's obscene gesture to Spain bench”

The Portugal and Real Madrid left back has been accused of marring the occasion as “after a throw-in decision in favour of Spain, Coentrao turned to the Spain bench. He proceeded to point with his index finger before putting a hand over his nether regions.”

Such incidents aside, the Spanish are proud of their team and their resilience in the face of real competition. No player summed this spirit up better than Alvaro Arbeloa who has received a lot of criticism recently but was lauded for his performance last night against Cristiano Ronaldo: “Many doubted the Real Madrid right back, but Arbeloa has emerged as a bull and has managed to curb Cristiano". (SER)

The Spanish now look forward to Sunday’s final with hope: “The 'Roja' have given their fans something to shout about every summer of a big competition since 2008. Sunday might be no different. It'd be dangerous to doubt these boys”. (AS)

There are mixed feelings in Portugal in the aftermath of their semi-final defeat. On the one hand they are proud of their team who fought so valiantly against the Spanish greats, and on the other they are cursing their “bad luck” (Publico) for their misfortune in the penalty shootout.

Publico does note however that the game wasn’t exactly the most lively spectacle: “The game was bland, without flare and resembled that episode of The Simpsons, in which, during a Portugal-Mexico match, Homer gets up from his chair at the stadium to scream "Booooring."

The Correio de Manha does commend the effort that their national side put in and said “we fell with honour and pride”.

The same publication continued “We return to Portugal with confidence”, and the paper follows on to praise their team who held Spain out for 120 minutes, going so far as to say that Portugal were the better side on the night.

The Diario de Noticas (DN) chose to use, as their headline, the wise words of captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who stated that: “We deserved to be in the final”.

Ronaldo, in particular was crushed by his side’s loss to Spain, and DN noted how the Spanish prevented him from having a match-winning performance.

One more slightly controversial point was made by DN regarding the feeling that the head of Uefa Michel Platini had predestined Los Rojas to go through to the final. This started to become a heated topic after the contentious choice of referee Çakir.

DN said that “half the prognosis of Michel Platini is filled” after he made it clear that he wanted a Spain v Germany Final. The DN made this comment with the referee’s performance in mind.

The “luck factor” is also mentioned by the DN, observing that once the game had gone to penalties it was a “lottery” and either side could have progressed through to the final. There was a feel of bitterness every time the word “luck” was repeated in the press as DN felt that “for 90 minutes Portugal was more dangerous”.

Sports journal O Jogo went as far as saying that “Spain have failed” after their inability to defeat the Portuguese in 120 minutes of football.

Another sporting paper Record emphasised that “Portugal failed to use their silver bullet” (in reference to Ronaldo). The paper felt that the “silver bullet” didn’t shine and that he was the key to success.

The Portugese overall feel hard done by after an “an intense duel” (Record) and that ultimately it was “luck” that defeated them on the night.