ITALY 0-0 SPAIN
SPAIN WIN 7-6 ON PENS
Spain defeated Italy in a relay of the 2012 European Championship final, however they needed penalties to do so. The Azzurri were out for revenge after their previous meeting but could not turn their dominance over the first 90 minutes into goals.
Spain were not really in the game throughout the first 90, but when Italy tired in extra time, Spain turned the screw but still needed Leonardo Bonucci’s missed spot kick, the 14th of the competition, to book their place in Sunday’s final against hosts Brazil.
Spain beat Italy 4-0 little over a year ago in the European Championships, and many thought they would win by a similar scoreline. The first 3 minutes Spain started the brighter of the 2, and a great chance fell to Pedro, pulling his shot wide. They wouldn’t have many better chances in normal time. By the 36th minute Italy were carving Spain apart with good chances falling to Emanuele Giaccherini, Alberto Gilardino and Christian Maggio, Maggio had the best of the lot with a good ball played over the top leaving Maggio with Iker Casillas to beat, with the Spainish keeper getting a hand to it.
Jesus Navas replaced his new Manchester City team-mate David Silva shortly after the restart and the winger soon tested Gianluigi Buffon’s reflexes with a low drive to the far post. Andres Iniesta then worked his way from the dugout to the D and, although his shot sailed wide, Spain were beginning to show more bite and resilience.
Only a desperate block from Gerard Pique denied Claudio Marchisio from six yards, though, and five minutes from full-time the Barca defender would miss the mark from the same distance.
A rare foray forward from a tired Spain saw Torres drive down the right wing but the striker would have preferred to be in Pique’s place when his low cross arrived at the near post. Sergio Ramos failed to put his forehead on Xavi’s free-kick into the box deep into stoppage time and Brazil were left waiting a little longer to discover their final opponents as the full time whistle rang.
The thickness of a post spared Casillas from Giaccherini at the start of extra time began but it would be Spain’s players who found hidden reserves of energy. Pique and Ramos sore efforts go narrowly wide, before on the verge of full time Jordi Alba skimmed the bar from a deft cross from Iniesta. In the first half of extra time.
Mata was now beginning to pull the strings for Spain, with cramp fast becoming a major issue for the Italians. Spain started laying siege to the Italian goal, with Mata, Xavi and Navas all going close to Buffon’s goal. After 120minutes and no goals, Penalties were ordered.
Two of the best sides in the world, with 2 of the best goal keepers in the world, this was an intriguing penalty shootout. 11 brilliant penalties, which left both Buffon and Casillas with no chance were taken, and it was up to defender Bonucci to score. The defender was somewhat hidden on the pitch, and did not have many touches, and this proved lethal, blazing his penalty over the bar, like Chris Waddle in the 1990 world cup. Spain duly dispatched their kick leaving them to face Brazil in the final on Sunday.
ITALY: Buffon, Maggio, Bonucci, Barzagli (Montolivo 45), Chiellini, Candreva, De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio (Aquilani 79), Giaccherini, Gilardino (Giovinco 91)
SPAIN: Casillas, Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pique, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro (Mata 79), Torres (Javi Martinez 94), Silva (Jesus Navas 52)
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