It took 120 minutes and a penalty shoot out, but the defending European and World Champion’s kept their Euro 2012 hopes alive thanks to some fine penalty shots by Spain and a costly miss by Portugal’s Bruno Alves.
After Alves’ shot hit the cross bar, Spain’s Cesc Fábregas stepped up and drilled on past Portugal’s goalkeeper Rui Patricio to send La Furia Roja to the European Championship for the second straight time. Spain now awaits the winner of tomorrow’s match-up between an impressive German squad and a plucky Italian team.
Despite having a number of solid chances off of set pieces and corner kicks, the Portuguese squad led by Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to capitalize as Spain held on. As the game went into extra time, the Spanish side appeared to gain the momentum it seemed to lack in the first two halves of the semifinal match-up.
Spain, who have played either brilliantly or a bit off their rocker this tournament, seemed a bit lost during much of the game, allowing Portugal to counter and get the ball to Ronaldo. However, the Real Madrid superstar was unable to follow through on any of his chances.
The Spanish team was shaking hands and hugging supporters as they left the Donetsk pitch as very relieved players. Portugal can count themselves unlucky. They were ground down rather than thoroughly beaten by a Spanish team that played with little ambition and even less energy. Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque is going to have to do a lot if Spain is to beat Germany or Italy.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.