Spain aim to overcome curse of June 22
Spain will have to break a 22-year hoodoo if they are to beat Italy in their Euro 2008 quarterfinal showdown in Vienna on Sunday.
“La Seleccion” have suffered three painful penalty shootout defeats in quarterfinals at major tournaments in matches played on June 22.
They lost to Belgium on spot kicks in the last eight of the Mexico World Cup in 1986 after a late Juan Senor goal earned them a 1-1 draw in Puebla on June 22.
A decade later they were beaten on penalties by England after a 0-0 draw at Wembley in Euro 96, Fernando Hierro and Miguel Angel Nadal missing from the spot.
They then lost to co-hosts South Korea on penalties after another goalless draw in the 2002 World Cup quartefinals.
With the clock running down in extra time, Spain appeared to have grabbed a ‘golden goal’ winner from Fernando Morientes only for Egyptian referee Gamal Al-Ghandour to disallow it, saying the ball had rolled out of play before Joaquin crossed.
Several players kept their heads down during the shootout and Joaquin, by now carrying an injury, missed his spot kick, allowing South Korea to triumph.
However, June 22 has not been lucky for Italy either.
They were eliminated on that date in the group stage of Euro 2004 in Portugal with five points. They beat Bulgaria 2-1 but went out because Sweden scored a last minute goal to draw 2-2 with Denmark and both Scandinavian sides qualified.
In Euro 88 they lost the semifinal to Soviet Union 2-0 in Stuttgart also on June 22.
Spain have never beaten Italy at a major tournament outside the Olympic Games. So is another quarterfinal penalty shootout defeat on the cards or could it be fourth time lucky for Spain?