Looks like no one brought their shooting boots to this match. It was a bunch of John Arne Riise’s outdoing each other in blasting the ball into the stratosphere after doing a nice bit of spadework to get into good shooting positions. Portugal were the much better side in the first half really pushing Spain back as Cristiano Ronaldo applied his pace and ball skills. But no goal.
The second half really underscored the haphazard shooting as Hugo Almeida the biggest culprit showed he couldn’t hit a barn door. On a 4 on three breakaway, Almeida with plenty of options, elected to send the ball crashing into an event horizon.
There was plenty of Real Madrid on Real Madrid crime with Sergio Ramos and Ronaldo barging into each other and Xabi Alonso bringing him down.
Portugal could have ended it in the 90th minute when Ronaldo on 4 on three tearaway blazed a ridiculous shot over the crossbar. Expending all that energy in regulation seemed to have drained Portugal because they played extra time with heavy legs. Spain had succeeded in wearing them down and increasingly began knocking on the door through Jesus Navas and Pedro, both second half introductions. Iniesta had a great chance after Jordi Alba found him but Rui Patricio managed to stop his shot.
It was onto penalties. Four years ago, in another penalty shootout Spain managed to discard their perennial loser status by winning against Italy, 4-2 to reach the 2006 Euro semi-finals, kick starting their interrupted reign at the top.
This time it was Portugal, turned back through the same margin, Cesc Fabregas knocking in the winning penalty and thereafter revealing he implored the ball to make history. It was Fabregas who struck the winning penalty against the Italians in the 2008 Euro.
Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t even figure seemingly designated to take the fifth (pun intended) and for all purposes, the winning penalty. But Iker Casillas saved Moutinho’s effort and then Bruno Alves shot crashed off the bar ensuring there would be no glory for the Real Madrid record breaker. Ramos, his club team mate executed a perfect Pirlo panenka. Nice touch for a hard man.
Spain enters the Euro finals again but it is with an absence of momentum. Perhaps that is their greatest strength. They all seem to have understood Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
” For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”