Euro 2012: Spain edge Portugal for third-straight Euro final
Donetsk: Spain reached their third-successive Euro final Thursday, beating a defiant Portugal 4-2 on penalties after their Euro 2012 semifinal ended goalless after extra time.
Cesc Fabregas scored the winning penalty off the post to send Spain through, after Portugal’s Bruno Alves hit the crossbar and Iker Casillas saved Joao Moutinho’s spot kick.
Sunday’s final in Kiev will be against Germany or Italy, who play in Warsaw Thursday.
Extra time was a predictably cagey affair with neither team willing to commit numbers forward to leave holes at the back.
But suddenly, the chance of the match fell to Iniesta toward the end of the first half as Pedro’s tricks released Jordi Alba down the left, the Valencia wingback pulling across to the onrushing Barcelona midfielder who angled a tame effort that Rui Patricio palmed away with ease.
When it came to penalties, both team had their first efforts save as Xabi Alonso went right and Moutinhno left.
Iniesta was the first to score, calmly sending Rui Patricio the wrong way. Pepe levelled it in the same fashion, before Pique squeezed it past Rui Patricio’s outstretched arm and into the corner.
Spain began their title defence with a cagey 1-1 draw against Italy before crushing Ireland 4-0 and surviving a couple of scares to overcome a spirited Croatia 1-0.
Two goals from Xabi Alonso brought a 2-0 victory over France in the quarterfinal.
Portugal started their campaign with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Germany in Group B, but scraped through as runners up thanks to equally closely fought victories over Denmark, 3-2, and the Netherlands 2-1.
Ronaldo’s 79th-minute header gave the 2004 finalists a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal.