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Posted at 05:37 PM ET, 06/27/2012

Euro 2012: Spain tops Portugal on penalty kicks, advances to final

Excerpted from the live Stats Inc. commentary, here’s a rundown of Spain’s penalty-kick win over Portugal in a Euro 2012 semifinal. Spain advanced to play either Italy or Germany in Sunday’s final.

0’ — PREVIEW: Many people would have you believe a country called Cristiano Ronaldo, with a population of one but the combined hair gel and arrogance of millions, is taking on Spain in tonight's Euro 2012 semi-final.

0’ — LINEUPS: As expected there’s just one change for Portugal, with Hugo Almeida in for the injured Helder Postiga. Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas both miss out for Spain — as does Fernando Llorente — as Vicente Del Bosque surprisingly plumps for Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo in what is the only alteration to his quarter final team. Full line-ups: PORTUGAL: Patricio; Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Coentrao; Meireles, Moutinho, Veloso; Nani, Ronaldo; Almeida. SPAIN: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Alonso; Silva, Negredo, Iniesta.

2’ — Good start from Portugal. They force a corner down the right — Veloso swings it right under Casillas’ bar and the keeper has to touch behind for another flag kick, which he then confidently claims.

8’ — First prolonged possession for Spain but it ends abruptly when Xabi Alonso looks for Silva over the top and it doesn't quite reach the Man City magician.

21’ — Spain had a brief spell of dominance but they're certainly struggling to play their natural game. Nearly a quarter of the game gone and Portugal have just about edged it.

30’ — Terrible refereeing here, I'm sorry to say. Nani steams through the Spanish back-line and looks set for a run into the box, but referee Cakir inexplicably brings it back for an earlier foul, giving a Portugal free kick. Deary me.

34’ — Nani gives it the old “I’m nearly dead” routine after being brushed aside by Ramos, having the cheek to wait for the physios to come on. Something tells me he’ll be fine.

45’ — Halftime, 0-0. Watchable, very watchable. The only downside has been the lack of goals. But Portugal’s high-tempo, closing down approach has certainly rattled Spain, who have struggled to make any headway into the Portugal third. Too close to call so far.

53’ — The hugely impressive Moutinho links up with Joao Pereira down the right to win a corner for Portugal, but again it comes to nothing. As interesting as this has been, we could do with a goal now.

56’ — The crowd are letting the two sides know what they think of the action — they’re started a Mexican wave.

64’ — Three bookings in three minutes then, which is symptomatic of the stop-start nature of this second half.

67’ — Spain have their first shot on target on the evening, believe it or not. It’s Xavi with it, from 25 yards, but Rui Patricio makes a comfortable save.

70’ — The pace is starting to quicken now, particularly from Spain. They don’t want extra time. Jesus Navas and Fabregas have both looked bright since coming on.

72’ — Huge anticipation as Ronaldo lines up a 30-yard free kick. The ref takes an age to blow his whistle, and when the shot comes it’s not too far over Casillas’ bar.

79’ — Chance for Portugal to put pressure on with a free kick on the right, but Veloso completely wastes it, punting it into Casillas’ arms. Portugal have been very wasteful in the second half.

83’ — Free kick, Ronaldo territory, from which Arbeloa handballs in the wall. So the next one will be ten yards further forward — the expectation levels can rise again.

84’ — Nope, he swings this one over the bar with the side of his boot. Disappointing. Just six minutes to go now.

84’ — Well I’m sorry to say the second half has been a bit of a let down. While the first was enchanting and intriguing, the second has been pedestrian and fairly lifeless. The two sides are cancelling each other out.

90’ — Full time, 0-0. Stalemate. Extra time awaits.

96’ — A left-wing cross is half cleared to Iniesta whose rebound shot is well blocked by Bruno Alves. Spain are playing all the football here — Portugal look set for penalties.

102’ — Successive corners for Spain but there's no threat to the Portugal goal. The same could be said of the rest of the evening. Rui Patricio has essentially had a night off in a Euro 2012 semi final against the European and world champions. Very strange.

104’ — He’s been called back from his annual leave now though — Rui Patricio has just pulled off a stunning save. Pedro and Alba combined down the left with the latter crossing for Iniesta. He was free eight yards out but sidefooted too close to Patricio who was able to parry wide. Great reactions.

106’ — We’re into the final 15 minutes of the game. Spain are the favourites, with Portugal looking very tired.

108’ — Ronaldo buys some time, pretending to be injured after falling over while jostling with Ramos. Portugal are definitely ready for penalties.

114’ — Fabregas beautifully dinks through for Pedro to chase — for a moment it looks like he’s through on goal but Fabio Coentrao sprints across to intercept in the nick of time. Brilliant cover from the left back.

118’ — The outstanding Pepe clears a fierce Alba cross ahead of Fabregas. He and the equally brilliant Bruno Alves has earned their team a shot at penalties here.

120’ — Full time, 0-0. And that’s it. Spain’s charge was too little, too late.

Spain PK No.1 — Xabi Alonso, scorer of a penalty in the quarter final, sees this one superbly saved by Rui Patricio. Early drama in the shoot-out. Advantage Portugal and it’s Moutinho who’s stepping up.

Portugal PK No. 1 — Saved!!! Casillas guesses right in more ways than one to deny Moutinho. Two decent penalties but the keepers have done themselves proud there. And still we remain goalless.

Spain PK No. 2 — Daddy cool Andres Iniesta show Patricio the wrong way, slotting it to the keeper’s left. Nicely done. And the net finally ripples.

Portugal PK No. 2 — Centre half Pepe is next up for Portugal. Pressure kick . . . and he scores. Casillas couldn't reach it.

Spain PK No. 3 — And another centre half, Gerard Pique, edges Spain back in front. Into the side netting — great spot kick. The tension keeps on rising.

Portugal PK No. 3 — You don't see this every day — Bruno Alves was walking up but Nani stopped him and took it himself, sending a terrific penalty into the roof of the net.

Spain PK No. 4 — Pirlo take two — Sergio Ramos dinks right down the middle, with Rui Patricio fooled. Incredible calmness.

Portugal PK No. 4 — Bruno Alves is up again but Nani should have stopped him again. He crashes against the bar. Ronaldo hasn’t even taken one yet but Spain can win it with their next kick . . .

Spain PK No. 5 — AND HE DOES!!! It's in off the post and Spain are through! . . . Ronaldo looks on in disbelief as the Spaniards start celebrating. Fabregas is one lucky man — it clipped off the post and rolled into the opposite side netting. But where was Ronaldo in the shoot-out? Surely he should have gone first instead of Moutinho, who saw his kick saved. Or perhaps he bottled it, ala Robben, and was ninth in the list.

Summary — Justice has perhaps been done. After a below-par first half Spain were the better side thereafter, and were the only team looking to win in extra time. It's a shame for Portugal, who started the game so brightly, but they didn't play to their strengths — i.e. Ronaldo — and were clinging on at the end. As for Spain, well their passing game never really reached top gear but they just about did enough. They'll surely have to improve to win the final though. Full time in Donetsk, Portugal 0 Spain 0 (2-4 on penalties).

By  |  05:37 PM ET, 06/27/2012

 
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