Portugal vs. Spain  0 - 0

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Euro 2012 semi-final: Portugal 0 Spain 0 (2-4 pens)

28 June 2012 16:22

Spain reached their third consecutive major final with a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Portugal in Wednesday's Euro 2012 semi-final.

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.

With the shoot-out level at 3-2 after Bruno Alves rattled the bar it was Cesc Fabregas who netted the winner.

Portugal set about disrupting Spain's rhythm from the kick-off by pressing their opponents high up the pitch. It worked for the opening few minutes as Spain struggled to get their foot on the ball but they soon forged a chance for themselves.

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 box where Alvaro Arbeloa tried to caress it into the top corner but his attempt flew over the bar.

Cristiano Ronaldo was proving difficult for Del Bosque's men to deal with. Two charging runs down the left however failed to result in anything to truly test keeper Iker Casillas with a free kick and a wild volley on the spin inside the opening 25 minutes.

Nine minutes after half-time Vicente Del Bosque admitted his pre-match gamble had not paid off as he replaced Alvaro Negredo with Fabregas.

Paulo Bento's side 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 35 yards that did not trouble Casillas.

Shortly after the hour mark, Xavi got the semi'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.

In the 90th minute Portugal found themselves in a four-on-one but when the ball was shifted to the left Ronaldo blazed wide.

Del Bosque's side controlled the extra 30 minutes but Rui Patricio brilliantly thwarted both Iniesta and Jesus Navas either side of the break to ensure the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

Both teams got off to the worst start possible as Patricio and Casillas both saved from Alonso and Moutinho respectively. Iniesta, Pepe, Pique, Nani and Ramos all scored before Bruno Alves hit the bar to make the score 3-2 to Spain after four penalties 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 either Germany or Italy on July 1.

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Euro 2012 semi-final preview: Portugal v Spain

27 June 2012 19:36

Reigning champions Spain do battle with Portugal in their Euro 2012 semi-final on Wednesday with one man on coach Vicente del Bosque's mind.

Paulo Bento's Portugal possess one of the most damaging players at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine with Cristiano Ronaldo's three goals to date and constant threat helping them into the last four in style.

The Spaniards know Ronaldo all too well with four likely starters being team-mates of his at Real Madrid, while another five have played against him countless times for Barcelona.

Ronaldo scored the winner as Portugal played the Czech Republic off the park in their 1-0 quarter-final win and will pose a threat to Spain, who were thoroughly dominant against France to win 2-0.

Despite striker Helder Postiga sidelined with a hamstring injury, Del Bosque is not expecting Bento to spring any major tactical surprises.

"They are going to keep the 4-3-3 that they have used so far," Del Bosque said.

"It is true that the other teams that we have faced have made reinforcements to their defence, but I don't expect that Portugal will change anything."

Portugal have been lethal on the counter-attack in wins against the Czechs and the Netherlands and although they required a playoff to reach the tournament, they appear to have reached their peak at the right time.

"Portugal have players like Nani, who is a very intelligent footballer, (Joao) Moutinho with his clever passes, (Raul) Meireles and his powerful shots from outside of the area," Del Bosque said.

"They have strong and powerful defenders and two full-backs that fit well in their attacking shape."

But with Ronaldo on the other side, Del Bosque knows that Spain's possession style could play into the hands of Portugal, as it did when they handed Spain their biggest defeat since 1950 with a 4-0 friendly win in Lisbon in 2010.

"They don't need much of the ball because with one counter-attack or one long ball they have Ronaldo," he said.

"It is obvious that he is a one-off; there is nobody else like him. I would like to keep him quiet and not let him play, but this will need lots of team-work in order to deny him space when Portugal have the ball."

Del Bosque has raised eyebrows throughout the tournament by fielding an 11 without a recognised striker.

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has occupied the 'false nine' position for much of the tournament, relegating Chelsea striker Fernando Torres to bit-part roles after a lean season.

World-class midfielders Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso and David Silva lend support to effectively comprise a six-man, interchangeable midfield.

Spain maintain their favourites tag as the reigning world and European champions but will be wary of a dangerous Portugal side sure to make this a memorable Iberian clash.