27th of June 2012 Author: Johnny Karp
Defending champions Spain needed to play a full 120 minutes and take five penalty kicks to defeat a resilient Portuguese team. Cristiano Ronaldo and his team mates leave the tournament while the Spaniards are one game away from defending the title.
The first chance of the game didn't come too early as the two teams seemed to take their time and approach the match with quite a bit of caution. That opportunity fell to Alvaro Arbeloa on 9 minutes, but the defender fired over the bar from the edge of the area. Then things were fairly quiet until the half hour mark when Cristiano Ronaldo had the first decent attempt for Portugal but his good shot ended up in the side netting. And that was all the excitement the two teams produced in the first half.
Things got even worse after the break, the game became rough and tough with less and less coherent attacks. Cristiano Ronaldo had a pair of free kick opportunities but he squandered them by sending the ball over the bar on both occasions. As for Spain, they had just one half-decent shot in the whole second half but Xavi's effort was an easy catch for the goalkeeper.
The situation changed in extra time as Spain finally started to play better in an attempt to avoid the penalty shoot-out. Andres Iniesta had a huge chance on 104 minutes following a good move from Jordi Alba but the Barcelona midfielder was denied by a sensational reflex save from Rui Patricio. The Portuguese goalie did well again on 109 minutes to stop substitute Jesus Navas and the game went to penalties.
Xabi Alonso missed the first one for Spain, saved by Rui Patricio, but Iker Casillas repaired the mistake by saving Moutinho's shot. Then Iniesta scored for Spain, Pepe for Portugal, Pique for Spain, Nani for Portugal and Sergio Ramos for Spain. Defender Bruno Alves buried the Portuguese hopes as his kick rattled the crossbar and then Cesc Fabregas coolly converted the decisive penalty.
Spain advance to the final where they will meet either Italy or Germany.
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