Euro 2012: Spain edges Portugal in shootout to reach final

In the shootout, Xabi had the first attempt saved by Rui Patricio before Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved Joao Moutinho’s shot. Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos then all scored for Spain, while Pepe and Nani answered for Portugal.

“The first one wasn’t so lucky, and then we scored the rest of them,” Casillas said. “Yes, we really were lucky. Everything is about luck sometimes.”

Del Bosque ditched his unorthodox 4-6-0 formation for Wednesday’s match and opted for a traditional striker — but not the one many expected. Instead of Fernando Torres, it was Alvaro Negredo that got the start up front. But 10 minutes into the second half, Del Bosque replaced him with Fabregas.

Although Negredo worked hard, his lack of movement made him easy to mark. Spain improved as Fabregas made clever runs to stretch the defense and the defending champions dominated most of extra time with the substitution of Pedro Rodriguez for midfielder Xavi Hernandez late in the match.

“I think we were better in the first 90 minutes. Then in extra time we were less efficient,” Bento said. “When we couldn’t take advantage of our opportunities, Spain got stronger.”

Rui Patricio was a big help in goal for Portugal, but much more was expected from Ronaldo. The winger had a chance, albeit a difficult one, to win the game in the 90th minute when Portugal poured forward after clearing a free kick. But Raul Meireles’ pass was fractionally behind Ronaldo and, with momentum lost, he had to check his run and sent his shot high and wide.

Ronaldo briefly threatened early in the first half, whipping over a cross from the left wing that Casillas grabbed before Nani could head it in. He also sent a free kick into the wall after too easily tumbling under a challenge.

Working as a unit, Portugal started to gain the upper hand midway through the first half. Moutinho flicked the ball into the path of Ronaldo, whose wild shot flew over the net.

“Everyone helped to control Ronaldo,” Del Bosque said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player