Spain’s reign as European champion is still alive, and Cristiano Ronaldo only sat and watched as Portugal’s tournament run came to an end.
After a scoreless 120 minutes, Spain outlasted Portugal on penalty kicks 4-2 at Donbass Stadium in Donetsk, Ukraine, with Ronaldo never getting the chance to take a penalty for Portugal.
Both goalkeepers — Portugal’s Rui Patricio and Spain’s Iker Casillas — came up with saves on the opening kicks of the shootout, robbing Xabi Alonso and Joao Moutinho, respectively. Andres Iniesta, Pepe, Gerard Pique and Nani traded makes before Sergio Ramos chipped down the center to give Spain a 3-2 edge. With Portugal needing a conversion to tie it up, Bruno Alves stepped forward, with Ronaldo presumably being saved for Portugal’s fifth kick. The centerback promptly blasted his chance off the crossbar, leaving Cesc Fabregas with a chance to win it.
The Barcelona attacker tucked his shot off the left post and in to leave Ronaldo standing helpless at midfield while sending Spain back to the final, where it will defend its title against either Germany or Italy.
The drama of the penalties overshadowed an otherwise evenly played game that lacked quality chances on both ends.
Both sides had threatening spells of possession throughout the first half, but that did not translate into opportunities on goal. Spain’s best opportunity of the opening half came in the ninth minute, when Iniesta squirted free inside the box and tried to cross. Bruno Alves failed to clear and the ball fell to a wide-open Alvaro Arbeloa, but his shot from 18 yards out was over the bar.
Portugal’s pressure disrupted Spain’s normal dominance of possession and reliance on short passing. Their inability to keep possession was almost costly as Moutinho won possession back deep in Spain’s half in the 31st minute. Ronaldo received a pass and sent a low shot skimming just wide of the post.
The second half saw Portugal with more of the chances but never really forced Iker Casillas into much action. Hugo Almeida wasted a 3-on-3 Portugal break by firing a long-distance shot well over the bar. Ronaldo was unable to connect a couple of free kicks before misfiring on Portugal’s best opportunity of the game. As the game approached extra time, Raul Meireles led a counterattack down the center, but his pass to find Ronaldo on his left was a bit behind the Real Madrid star, and his shot from 15 yards out went well over the bar.
What did you think of the match? Stunned that Ronaldo did not take a penalty for Portugal? Think Spain will repeat, or do you think it’s Germany or Italy’s year?
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