Spain's players celebrate after defeating Portugal after Euro 2012 semi-final soccer match at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk. Reuters
No second coming for Alves
Chaos reigned supreme during Portugal's third penalty. Bruno Alves stepped up to take his spot kick, only to be ordered back by Nani (right), who sent it where no ‘keeper can reach — the top left corner. Alves returned for his side’s next spot kick, and there were no interruptions as he ran in and blasted the ball, only to crash it into the crossbar (above) and hand Spain the decisive advantage. “There was some confusion with Bruno and with Nani, then Bruno took the penalty...and it was decisive,” Portugal coach Paulo Bento said later.
Woodwork favours the brave
Four years ago in the quarterfinal against Italy, Cesc Fabregas (above, left) scor-ed the winning penalty that kick-started La Furia Roja’s era. On Wednesday, he was supposed to take the second penalty, but told Vicen-te del Bosque he wanted to take the fifth as he had a premonition. Said the midfielder, “When I stepped up to take the penalty I said to the ball that we had to make history and it shouldn't let me down.” It didn’t — Fabregas sent the ball flying into the net off the right-hand post to send Spain into a third straight final.
Shootout again, Panenka again!
He blasted over the bar in Real Madrid's Champions League semifinal loss against Bayern Munich last season, but Sergio Ramos (left) had no hesitation in doing to Portugal what Italy's Andrea Pirlo did to England in the quarters - psychologically knock the stuffing out of the opponents with an audacious Panenka. He confessed later, “I’d planned it in advance, I won’t lie. It was a risk, but I had seen how the goalkeeper moved and I was pretty sure he would go one way or the other. It was lucky, but it was great for me.”
Saving the best for last?
Conspicuous by his absence from the proceedings during the penalty shootout was Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. The star winger later said, “I was going to take the next [penalty], but we missed two. It was just a question of me speaking with the coach. He said to me, ‘Do you want to take the fifth one?’ and I said ‘yes’. Sometimes I take the first, the second or the third. I agreed to take the fifth.” Concurred Bento, “We had this plan and if it had been 4-4 and he would taken the last penalty we would be talking in a different way. We lost because Spain were more efficient in the penalties.”