Italy 0 (2) - Spain 0 (4)
Spain broke their quarterfinal jinx when they beat Italy 4-2 on penalties in the last quarterfinal of Euro 2008 to set up a semifinal meeting with Guus Hiddink’s Russia.
The win was also a rare one for the Spaniards on the 22nd, with La Furia Roja having been knocked out of the 2002 WC, Euro 1996 and the 1986 WC on that date. Penalties were a foregone conclusion with both teams playing the way they did - especially the Italians, but this time Spain got their spot kicks right.
Chances were few and far between in the game. The Italians played with four central midfielders, and Spain found it hard to break them down. David Villa and Torres could not get going upfront, with the former eventually getting booked by Herbert Fandel for diving, and the latter substituted by Aragones. The match, to the average football fan, was a bore, with both teams being cagey and defensive. Mauro Camoranesi had one glorious chance in the Spanish box after Luca Toni imposing presence caused Spain all kinds of problems, but Casillas was present to save the day. Towards the end, Gianluigi Buffon nearly did a Petr Cech when he fumbled Marcos Senna’s shot, but fortunately for the Juventus keeper, it hit the upright and came back to him.
And when it did come down to penalties, it was Buffon against Casillas. Captain against Captain. But the Spanish prevailed and wiped out all memories of previous shootout disasters, with Casillas saving from De Rossi and Di Natale. Villa, Cazorla and Senna sent the first three in for Spain, but Buffon saved Daniel Guiza’s effort. Only Grosso and Camoranesi converted for the Italians, and with Di Natale missing, Cesc Fabregas scoring would bring the curtains down on Italy’s Euro. And the Arsenal midfielder dealt the final blow, shooting to his right as Buffon guessed wrong and went the other side.
Spain now face Russia, a team they saw off 4-1 in the group stage. But that was when the Russians were without Andrei Arshavin, and we have already seen what the Russian No.10 can do- Sweden and Holland will be more than willing to vouch for that fact.
Tags: Spain, Italy, Euro 2008, David Villa, Luca Toni, Gianluigi Buffon, Cesc Fabregas