Spain went through to the final of Euro 2012 after a dramatic penalty shootout saw Spain’s Sergio Ramos chip the ‘keeper and Portuguese misses leaving Cristiano Ronaldo marooned and unable to take their fifth penalty.
Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas scored the penalty that took Spain to the final after coolly hitting his effort in off the post to beat Portugal 4-2 but misses by Bruno Alves and Joao Moutinho meant that Cristiano Ronaldo, who presumably had saved himself for Portugal’s fifth and final penalty could instead only watch in dismay as the Spanish celebrated yet another unbeaten semi-final in tournament finals, their fourth out of four, and a place in the final against either Germany or Italy.
Manchester United’s Nani, who scored his penalty for Portugal, had earlier pulled Bruno Alves back from the brink of taking his penalty in what initially appeared to be a new form of gamesmanship but turned out to be a genuine error only to see Sergio Ramos execute a Andrea Pirlo style chip immediately afterwards to beat Rui Patricio.
When it came to the Portuguese defender’s actual turn to take his penalty Alves looked as rattled as the woodwork he struck leaving Fabregas to finish the job after what had been a largely disappointing 120 minutes of football.
The Spanish have been accused of playing boring football, something they strongly refute, but their tactics and ability have led them to the third major tournament in a row – and they will hope to make history with three major tournament wins in a row on Sunday.