Spain came through an exhausting encounter by winning a penalty shootout 7-6 over Italy in the semifinal on Thursday and will face Brazil in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on Sunday to cap the World Cup warmup tournament. “I think everybody was waiting for this Confederations Cup final to be Spain vs Brazil,” Spain captain Iker Casillas said. “I think the two teams that deserve to play the final are actually playing it.”
Jesus Navas scored the decisive penalty in the shootout after extra time ended 0-0 in a draining match that was made more difficult by heat and humidity.
Nobody missed in the shootout until Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci shot over the bar to give Navas an attempt at the winner. The recently signed Manchester City midfielder coolly beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to end a top-class battle and send Spain to another major final.
While calling his squad “lucky” to win, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was not about to concede the final due to fatigue, even though Spain have one less day of rest than Brazil, who beat Uruguay 2-1 on Wednesday.
“We have to now consider what we have to do in the three days to recover. And we will definitely stand up to Brazil in the Maracana,” the manager said. “The players should feel just as happy as kids playing in the Maracana. They have won a lot, but they want to win in the Maracana.”
It will be the fourth major final Spain will play in five years, while Brazil are hoping to rekindle their glory under Felipe Scolari, who led the Selecao to the 2002 World Cup title. “It will be a special match for the Brazilians, and also for the Spanish team to play in the Maracana,” Casillas said.
In a rematch of the Euro 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0, Italy threatened early on even without the injured Mario Balotelli, relying on counterattacks, while Spain relied on their usual game of short passing and ball possession.