Spain 0-0 Portugal (Spain won 4-2 on penalties)
Alonso – Saved 0-0
Moutinho – Saved 0-0
Iniesta – Scores 1-0 Spain
Pepe – Scores 1-1
Pique – Scores 2-1 Spain
Nani – Scores 2-2
Ramos – Scores 3-2 Spain
Bruno Alves – Misses 3-2 Spain
Fabregas – Scores 4-2 Spain
Man of the Match – Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Spain were slaved to penalties for progression to the final of the European Championships by an inspired Portugal who at times looked the better team in an enthralling match at Donetsk. With the game being billed as probably the biggest game of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career, there was visible tension among both sets of players and fans alike.
Spain made a surprise inclusion to the starting lineup, with Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo starting upfront in place of Francesc Fabregas or Fernando Torres. Portugal named the usual starting lineup, which has taken them so far in the tournament. Helder Postiga still remained out injured, his place taken by Hugo Almeida.
Portugal had the much better start in what can be described as a quite frantic open half. Portugal had 2 corners within the first 3 minutes, and rather surprisingly dominated Spain on possession. Cristiano Ronaldo whipped a cross from the left, which was saved by Casillas, before Nani could make any contact. The Spanish on the other hand, had to be content holding on to the ball, as the Portugese gave little room for them to exploit.
David Silva was being marked well by Fabio Coentrao, and despite the best efforts of the hardworking Negredo, Spain barely threatened. Cristiano Ronaldo sent a free kick just over. The trio of Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso played a big part in frustrating the Spanish.
Spain played the second half with much more composure, as they kept the ball for longer periods. However, their periods of possession was met with chorus of boos from all over the stadium. Cristiano Ronaldo was again guilty of sending his free kicks over, as Spain looked more comfortable with the ball. However, they never created a meaningful effort on goal.
The ineffective duo of Alvaro Negredo and David Silva were replaced by Francesc Fabregas and Jesus Navas, as Spain tweaked the formation to a pacier one. Pepe and Bruno Alves were unflinching though.
Infact, most of the best chances of the match would come in extra time. Rui Patricio had to make some fine saves off Andres Iniesta, who looked almost certain to score, when he looked to hook in an Alba cross, and Jesus Navas. Portugal injected pace of their own, throwing forwards Nelson Oliveira and Silvestre Varela into the fray. But to no avail, as the match headed for penalties.
Xabi Alonso had his penalty saved as Rui Patricio made a brilliant left sided save. Joao Moutinho had his spot kick then saved by Casillas. Andres Iniesta, Pepe and Gerard Pique all converted theirs before Nani stopped Bruno Alves in the tracks to go and score his. Sergio Ramos exorcised the ghosts of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich, where he blasted his penalty over, with a Pirlo-esque chip past Patricio. Bruno Alves, however wasn’t so lucky with his spot kick as it struck the bar. And with one more penalty required to seal the win, Fabregas kept his calm and scored, to spark wild celebrations from the Spaniards.
Portugal were eliminated but they can go home with their heads held high. They had come the closest to beating the reigning European and world champions.
Match Ratings – Spain
Casillas (8) – Made a couple of important saves during the game, and also saved one of the penalties.
Arbeloa (7.5) – Was set for a grueling night facing Ronaldo, but he did admirably well.
Ramos (8.5) – A brilliant match for the defender.
Pique (8) – Another commanding performance at the back.
Alba (8.5) – Tireless on the flanks all night.
Busquets (7.5) – Had an average game I thought.
Alonso (7.5) – Struggled against a dogged Portugese midfield.
Xavi (7.5) – A rare subdued performance.
Iniesta (7.5) – Had the best chance of the game, but he was well marshalled by Pereira.
Silva (7) – Ineffective on the night.
Negredo (7) – Struggled after being the surprise inclusion. Hard working, but lacked the incisiveness and thrust that Fabregas provides.
Fabregas (7.5) – Quickly changed the dynamic of the game, allowing Spain to go more forward.
Navas (7.5) – He did infuse some pace, but not too penetrative.
Pedro (7.5) – A hasty substitution. Didn’t really bother the Portugese defence.
Match Ratings – Portugal
Patricio (8) – A good game for the Portugese custodian.
Pereira (8) – A strong showing at right-back.
Pepe (8) – A good game, expressed by the fact the Spain barely created any open chances on goal.
Bruno Alves (8) – Partnered Pepe well at the back.
Coentrao (8) – Continued his impressive form in the tournament with another good game.
Veloso (7.5) – In the thick of things, all night.
Moutinho (8) – Moutinho was one of the best players last night in midfield. He helped shut out the Spanish for large periods.
Meireles (7.5) – Helped Portugal control the game in midfield.
Ronaldo (8) – A mixed game I should say. Looked Portugal’s best bet to opening the scoring.
Nani (7.5) – A spirited fine showing. His pace was good, but Alba won the battle at the end.
Almeida (7.5) – An industrious performance from the marksman.
Oliveira (7) – Did little to cause panic in the Spanish defence.
Custodio (No Rating)
Varela (No Rating)
Spain – 7.64
Portugal – 7.75