Portugal 0 Spain 0 (aet, 2-4 on pens): Fabregas hits winning spot-kick as holders squeeze through to final
21:48 GMT, 27 June 2012
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.
Job done: Spain's players go wild as Fabregas slots the winning penalty
Portugal: Rui Patricio; Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao; Meireles (Varela 113), Veloso (Custodio 106), Joao Moutinho; Nani, Almeida (Nelson Oliveira 81), Ronaldo.
Subs not used: Eduardo, Quaresma, Ricardo Costa, Rolando, Ruben Micael, Miguel Lopes, Hugo Viana, Postiga, Beto.
Booked: Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Veloso.
Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Alonso; Silva (Jesus Navas 60), Xavi (Pedro 87), Iniesta; Negredo (Fabregas 54).
Subs not used: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Torres, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Reina.
Booked: Sergio Ramos, Busquets, Arbeloa, Alonso.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
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
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.
Leading the way: Portugal captain Ronaldo organises his side
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.
Putting the boot in: Nani challenges Xabi Alonso
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.
Centre of attention: Ronaldo was excellent in the first half but fell away in the second
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.
Rolling back the years: Portugal boss Paulo Bento juggles the ball on the sidelines
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.
Midfield maestro: Iniesta gets away from Joao Pereira
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
Highly-charged: Pepe remonstrates with the linesman
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.
Glorious chance: Rui Patricio saves from Iniesta from point-blank range
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.
Key moments: Ramos (above) celebrates his cheeky penalty before Bruno Alves (below) misses for Portugal
On the way to Kiev: Spain scraped through by the skin of their teeth