Semi-Final
Portugal 0-0 Spain
(Spain win 4-2 on penalties)

 

 

Joao Moutinho missed the first spotkick of the shoot-out for the Portuguese as Spain's Iker Casillas springs to his right to keep it out

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Donbass Arena, Donetsk 


Spain progressed to their third consecutive major final in an international tournament at the expense of Portugal after a win on penalties in the semis. 

Despite playing at far from their best and with chances to find the net at a premium, a total of 120 minutes failed to separate the two sides as the game ended 0-0. And after Bruno Alves rattled the bar with Portugal's fourth penalty of the shoot-out. It took until half past midnight local time to get there, but Fabregas, who had scored the winning penalty in the Euro 2008 quarter-final win over Italy, ensured Spain proceeded to the final against either Germany or Italy on Sunday in Kiev and remained on course for an unprecedented third successive tournament victory.

Boss Vicente del Bosque sprung a surprise before kick-off as he made one change to the Spanish side that defeated France 2-0 in the quarter-finals, electing to start with forward Alvaro Negredo in attack ahead of both Fabregas and Fernando Torres as the Sevilla man made his first appearance of Euro 2012.

His Portuguese counterpart Paulo Bento also made one alteration after their 1-0 victory over Czech Republic with Hugo Almeida replacing the injured Helder Postiga after naming the same side for their six previous competitive fixtures. 

Portugal set about disrupting Spain's rhythm immediately by pressing their opponents high up the pitch. It worked for the opening few minutes as the Spaniards struggled to get their foot on the ball but they soon forged a chance for themselves. It had been billed as a clash of Ronaldo, the ultimate individualist, and Vicente Del Bosque's finely tuned orchestra - Ronaldo against Spain, Real Madrid against Barcelona, individual brilliance against the collective mastery of the defending world and European champions.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

The world champions Spain have now won their past nine knockout games at major tournaments without conceding a goal and are unbeaten in their last 19 competitive matches.

 

Andres Iniesta played a give-and-go down the left flank with Jordi Alba before passing the ball into the box. Negredo could not get a shot away but managed to stab it back to the top of the penalty area where Alvaro Arbeloa tried to caress it into the top corner but his attempt flew over the bar. 

After 12 minutes, Ronaldo reduced Gerard Pique to vain pursuit, surging beyond Barcelona defender Pique with remarkable power steering only for his delicate cross to be picked off Nani's head by goalkeeper Casillas. But the Spaniards were by no means dominating and Cristiano Ronaldo was proving difficult for Del Bosque's men to deal with. However, two charging runs down the left failed to result in anything to truly test Iker Casillas with a free kick and a wild volley on the spin inside the opening 25 minutes.

Bento's men continued their high-intensity pressing and Spain were unable to get the most out of Xavi when on the ball. A long delivery forward resulted in an opportunity for Iniesta but he failed to hit the target, and moments later Ronaldo pulled an effort wide of the goal. Spain were out of their comfort zone but their individual brilliance made them a danger on the rare occasions they did attack. Iniesta and Xavi combined well midway through the first half only for the former to curl his shot agonisingly over the crossbar.

Spain, who have the best defensive record at the tournament, continued to look uncomfortable on the ball and just nine minutes after the restart Del Bosque was left to admit that his pre-match gamble had not paid off as he replaced Negredo with the unorthodox forward Fabregas. Spain were playing out of tune for long periods as Portugal were the conductors as inspiration gave way to perspiration in Donetsk.

Portugal were getting a lot of joy from putting the Spaniards under pressure in their own half but Almeida failed to make the most of it in the 57th minute. After his side won the ball back he could have passed to Nani or Ronaldo but instead produced an ambitious shot from thirty-five yards that did not work Casillas. Briefly, Xavi began receiving the ball in advanced positions more regularly, showing the poise and the grace to dribble into dangerous areas.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Paulo Bento's Portugal have now hit the post seven times at the European Championship finals, a new record, with four of the efforts coming from captain Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Shortly after the hour mark Spain began to have their best spell of possession in the opposing half but there remained little to separate the two sides as the tension mounted. Xavi got the game's first shot on target with a drilled attempt that was straight at Rui Patricio, shortly followed by a Ronaldo free kick that flashed over the bar. Navas might have done better with a shot, from which Alba collected and picked out Iniesta's surging run only for the midfielder to see his close-range shot pushed round the post.

Portugal's raids were growing more infrequent as they were forced to rely on set-pieces and ten minutes later, Ronaldo repeated the trick and as the game ticked into injury time, the Real Madrid man had a chance to win it. In the 90th minute, Portugal found themselves in a four-on-one but when the ball was shifted to the left, Ronaldo failed to make a solid connection and blazed his well off target in what was the last opportunity of normal time. It was only the second goalless match of the tournament, coming in the space of four days after England's 0-0 draw after extra-time with Italy in the quarter-finals.

As the Portuguese grew tired they were no longer forcing their opponents to play from deep, instead allowing them to control the ball in their own half during much of extra time. It was all Spain now, and Fabregas put Pedro through on goal with a delightful touch on the half-way line but Portugal flooded back before the Barcelona forward could pull the trigger. Del Bosque's side dominated the extra 30 minutes but Rui Patricio brilliantly thwarted both Iniesta and Jesus Navas either side of the interval to ensure the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

Both teams got off to the worst start possible as Rui Patricio and Iker Casillas both saved from Xabi Alonso and Joao Moutinho respectively. Andres Iniesta calmly put Spain in front, only for Pepe to keep Portugal on terms with a clinical low finish. Spain defender Gerard Pique found the bottom left-hand corner of the net, but Nani responded by firing his spot-kick high into the roof of the net to make it 2-2. Spain's Sergio Ramos nonchalantly chipping his penalty home before Bruno Alves hit the bar to make the score 3-2 to Spain after four spot-kicks each.

It offered Fabregas the chance to book their spot in the final and he obliged scoring via the post and setting up a date in Kiev for the final with the Italians on July 1st after their 2-1 victory against Germany in the other semi-final.




ANALYSIS:  Portugal 0-0 Spain
Adam Higgins- Chief Football Editor reporting in Donetsk


"It was a match that wasn't entertaining but we saw the gameplan that both teams wanted to play and were hoping to carry out. The Portuguese were good at containing the Spanish and manipulated them appropriately not letting them have time to pass or get their heads up to pick out passes which worked well. I think Spain were wrong to go with Negredo but were right to go with a centre-forward- a team in my opinion cannot function properly without a focal point and main striker. Portugal were strong on a mental scale which is important with Paulo Bento making his substitutions at the right times to work around the tiredness of the players. Spain edged extra-time but I couldn't strongly make a case for either side in terms of whether they deserved to go through. It has been a settled side for the Portuguese throughout the tournament and after the defeat to Germany they have done well to turn it around. Ronaldo has been one of the best players after starting off slowly however I still felt he should have taken their first spotkick in the shoot-out."

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th June                UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine             Semi-Final                Donbass Arena, Donetsk


Portugal 0-0 Spain         AET                                    KO 7:45pm                    Live on BBC1/HD                (HT 0-0)

(Spain win 4-2 on penalties)

 

 

 

Portugal:

(4-3-3)


12 Rui Patricio-  8/10  Had his best match of the tournament with the Portuguese indebted to him on more than occasion and he came up with the goods saving well on the night from Navas, Fabregas, Pedro and Iniesta in particular.

21 Joao Pereira-  7.5/10  Rarely crossed the half-way line after half-time and had more of a challenge in dealing with Jesus Navas following his arrival. Not mentioned a lot which in his case was a good thing as he nullified the Spanish well down that flank. Booked.

3 Pepe-  7/10  The defensive rock found Fabregas harder to cope with when he came on in the second half but kept Negredo incredibly quiet with his domineering presence- some good headers and a confident spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out.

2 Bruno Alves-  6.5/10  Had a night to forget really- worked hard during the game and was harshly booked late in the ninety minute. Always looked like he was going to miss in the shoot-out as he hit the crossbar to leave Spain one kick away from the final.

5 Fabio Contreao-  7/10  Didn't show the attacking threat that he has showed in the previous matches in contrast he was rarely caught out from a defensive angle. Booked in first half. Good control when a couple of long range passes were aimed at him.

4 Miguel Veloso-  7.5/10  Was taken off in extra-time after putting in a good shift for the cause. Did a lot of chasing down and harrying while he was tasked with getting to grips with Xavi primarily.

8 Joao Moutinho-  7.5/10  Covered a lot of ground and put in tons of effort to stop the playmakers of Spain- worked his socks off to form a barrier and get in some tackles. Tired towards the end and his tame penalty in the shoot-out was saved by Casillas.

16 Raul Merieles-  8/10  Another workhorse who almost needed a stretcher to take him off when he was subbed. Had a splendid first half, barely put a foot wrong and he showed that he has the mentality to play in these big games. Best attributes on the night were his work-rate and passing.

17 Luis Nani-  6.5/10  A quiet match, never imposed himself on the proceedings and was very ineffective. Couldn't wrestle the ball of the Spanish or indeed his team-mates at time. At times, had defensive duties to carry out with Alba bombing forward which he was reluctant to do.

9 Hugo Almeida-  6.5/10  Was revved up having been on the sidelines for most of the tournament so far- stepped into Postiga's shoes but was distinctly average. Little service but on several occasions, he couldn't control the ball when it arrived at him while he had one or two hopeless shots off target.

7 Cristiano Ronaldo (C)-  7.5/10  Was built up to be the key man for Portugal but he couldn't deliver in the big game for them. Had a couple of free-kicks over the bar and a half chance at the end of ninety minutes otherwise he was fairly anonymous. Tried hard to get involved but his team-mates couldn't find him.  


Substitutes bench:-

1 Eduardo (GK), 22 Beto (GK), 13 Costa, 14 Rolando, 19 Miguel Lopes, 6 Custodio, 15 Ruben Micael, 20 Viana, 10 Quaresma, 23 Helder Postiga
, 11 Oliveira, 18 Varela.

 

Subs used:

Oliveira (for Almeida-  81 mins)-  4/10  Had one decent opening and looked lively when coming on- he hasn't had much playing time in the tournament but he has showed signs of his best mainly running in behind the defenders and causing them problems.

Custodio (for Veloso-  105 mins)-  3/10  The midfielder has a tendency to drift in and out of games and when he came on, all he seemed to do was follow the ball around.

Varela (for Merieles-  112 mins)-  2.5/10  Little chance to make an impact and mainly introduced to replace the tiring legs of Merieles.

 

Booked:        Coentrao (45+1), Pepe (60), Pereira (64), Bruno
                Alves (85), Miguel Veloso (93)

 

Sent-off:        None

 

Spain:

(4-3-3)


1 Iker Casillas (C)-  8/10  As always, he never had lots of saves to make merely a spectator for most of the match and when he was called into action, he showed his true qualities and was saved Moutinho's penalty in the shoot-out.

17 Alvaro Arbeloa-  7.5/10  Like Alba, he managed to get himself forward such is the Spanish style of play however unlike his colleague, he looked vulnerable and exposed which isn't the ideal situation to be in when one of the world's best players is up against you- luckily for him Ronaldo had an off-night.

3 Gerard Pique-  7/10  The defender sufficiently coped with Almeida who wasn't offering a lot or troubling him a lot in truth. A couple of astray passes when trying to find a midfielder and didn't look as commanding as usual with some wayward headers too.

15 Sergio Ramos-  7/10  Starting to suit the central defender role with his tall frame and shabbish look helping him to become a difficult obstacle to beat. Strong and powerful in the air. Tried to emulate Pirlo's penalty and was close to producing a carbon copy.

18 Jordi Alba-  8.5/10  His attacking threat was there for all to see, a constant threat and proved why Barcelona are interested in him and how he used to be a left-winger. Needed need to defend a lot- delivered some good crosses.

16 Sergio Busquets-  7.5/10  Showed more aggression and determination infront of the back four and was more assured in his tackling- his fiesty nature resulted in him being yellow carded for dissent but there was a certain ferocious streak in him.

14 Xabi Alonso-  7/10  Not the best of nights for the Real Madrid man who normally is so influential and reliable. You always expect to him to plug the gaps and spread fifty and sixty yard passes around- didn't settle at all and missed in the shoot-out.

8 Xavi Hernandez-  8/10  Taken off late in the ninety minutes with the effects of a long season and tournament finally getting to him- need to wrap him in cotton wool for Sunday's final. Showed his ability to pass quickly and retain possession in key areas.

6 Andres Iniesta-  8/10  After being completely closed off in the first half by Portugal, he and his Barca colleague Xavi dictated more in the second half. Crisp passing, always on the move with his head up- always positive, bringing men into the game and invites full-backs forward.

11 Alvaro Negredo-  6/10  Iscolated upfront all the time with nobody really assisting him in terms of getting into the box, no service from the wide areas and barely got a touch of the ball. Withdrawn early in the second half as a different approach was adopted.

21 David Silva-  6.5/10  Hasn't been able to stamp his mark on the Euros after a fabulous season with Manchester City- always bustled and looked a bright spark but didn't produce his best form when it mattered- once again taken off.


Substitutes bench:-

12 Valdes (GK), 23 Reina (GK), 2 Raul Albiol, 4 Javi Martinez, 5 Juanfran, 10 Fabregas, 20 Cazorla, 22 Jesus Navas, 7 Pedro, 13 Mata, 9 Torres, 19 Llorente
.

 

Subs used:

Fabregas (for Negredo-  54 mins)-  6/10  Had an impact despite being played out of his normal position in the unorthodox striking role which he has fitted to like a duck to water. More creation when he came on and he scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out.

Jesus Navas (for Silva-  60 mins)-  5.5/10  The Sevilla winger always adds width to the play which Spain needed, he is good at running at the full-back and finding room in behind which is what he tried to utilise- had one effort well saved by Patricio.

Pedro (for Xavi-  87 mins)-  4.5/10  Was effective as another outlet for the Spanish when introduced and he saw a lot of the ball, wanted to cut inside and take on Pereira- had one chance which he spurned but showed promising signs ahead of the final.

 

Booked:        Sergio Ramos (40), Busquets (60), Arbeloa (83),
                Alonso (113) 

 

Sent-off:        None

 

 

My Man of the Match:   Jordi Alba (Spain)- Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   Alvaro Negredo (Spain)- Rating 6/10

 

 

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)- 8/10
Attendance: 51,500

 

 

Match Facts:


Possession: Portugal- 41%                   Spain- 59%

Shots at goal: Portugal- 12                     Spain- 13

Shots on target: Portugal- 3                    Spain- 6

Shots off target: Portugal- 9                    Spain- 7

Corners: Portugal- 6                        Spain- 7

Fouls: Portugal- 28                        Spain- 19

Offsides: Portugal- 2                        Spain- 3

Assists: Portugal- 0 (None)                     Spain- 0 (None)

 

 

 

 

MANAGERS COMMENTS & Reaction:


Portugal head coach Paulo Bento:  "In my opinion, we've played a very good tournament. Today, I think we were better in the first 90 minutes and then in extra time we were less efficient. We couldn't get a goal, and after we didn't take our chances in the first 90 minutes, Spain became stronger and we lost efficiency. We let Spain play better in our half in extra time, but in the first 90 minutes we could have decided the game. If I had to choose a way of losing, it would be like this; Spain are a great team and we can leave with our heads held high. The players can now go on holiday, which they deserve. From September, we'll think again and prepare for the 2014 World Cup, but we know we can compete with any team at any level. The fifth [penalty-taker] would have been Ronaldo. We'd chosen an order of [João] Moutinho, Pepe, Nani and [Bruno] Alves, and then it would have been Ronaldo. We defined that plan and if it had been 4-4 and Ronaldo had the last penalty, we'd be talking about a different situation. I don't regret anything. We were an aggressive and cohesive team. We tried to control the game as much as it was possible. The way we competed, the way we played – even though we lost this semi-final – allows us to have a lot of confidence and allows the whole country to have confidence. The country is proud of the effort the team showed."


Spain head coach Vicente Del Bosque:  "Portugal were superior when it came to defending. We didn't have that many opportunities, so it was very balanced. In extra time, it was slightly different, and then we had lots of luck in the penalty shoot-out. I want to congratulate Portugal because they played a great tournament, but we were lucky this time. We don't only want to defend; we want to attack as well. Of course, we are improving our defence and that's thanks to the characteristics of our players. We're very happy about that and that will help us to our next successes. Xavi wasn't playing badly [when he came off]; he played very well, but he was tired and we wanted more pace on the pitch. Pedro [Rodríguez] and [Jesús] Navas were more active and provided more attacking strength. Xavi has had a great tournament. We created more problems for Portugal after introducing those players. It was vital and the players are getting more mature in each match. Extra time proved they are very experienced. Of course, all five penalty-takers offered to take the last one. Cesc told me he wanted to take the fifth one to be able to take the winner; they all wanted to. Sergio Ramos knew that Rui Patrício would go to one side for all the penalties and that's why he decided to do what [Andrea] Pirlo did in the previous match. The other semi-final will be a top game and whoever our opponents are, the final will be a great match. But we don't care who our opponents are."


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