Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012: Spain Win Semi On Penalties

Spain will play for the Euro 2012 championship after defeating Portugal, 4-2, on penalties.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Bento, And The Optimal Penalty Shootout Order

Having Cristiano Ronaldo waiting for the tenth and final kick didn't work out for Portugal against Spain, but how can we tell whether or not it was the right call to make?

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Final Score, La Roja Victorious 4-2 On Penalties

Spain are heading to the final of Euro 2012 with a chance to win three consecutive major finals, and the heat will be on Portugal manager Paulo Bento after this match. He got his tactics spot on, with his team doing brilliantly to hold Spain to a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes, but he didn't have Cristiano Ronaldo take one of his team's first four penalties. With Spain taking first and his team missing twice, he never got a chance to take one as La Roja went through 4-2 on penalty kicks.

Alvaro Negredo made a surprise start for Spain, winning a spot over the team's other two strikers and Cesc Fabregas, who was expected to start as a makeshift center forward in a no-striker formation for the Spaniards. The decision seemed curious from the start and Negredo did very little to silence his doubters with a very mediocre performance, bordering on poor.

Portugal looked good in the opening minutes of the game, but they fell asleep and gave up the game's first big chance in the 9th minute. After Bruno Alves intercepted a cross, he attempted to pass the ball out of his own area but instead found the feet of Alvaro Arbeloa. Spain's right back stepped up and took a shot, but powered it well over the crossbar.

There was a long gap between chances until Andres Iniesta was set up for one in the 29th minute. The ball was worked around the edge of the box following a long ball over the top of the defense, eventually finding the feet of Iniesta on the left side of the area. He came inside and found a space to take a right-footed shot, but missed high. Two minutes later, Ronaldo created a decent opportunity for himself, but missed his shot from 20 yards just wide of the near post. That would be the last clear chance of the first half.

Vicente del Bosque allowed Negredo to continue despite his poor first half performance, but it became obvious early in the second half that he wasn't going to make a positive impact on the game for his team. He was substituted out very early, with del Bosque taking him out for Fabregas in the 54th minute in a switch to the formation he was expected to start with.

Hugo Almeida started for Portugal in place of the injured Helder Postiga, and was arguably even less effective than Negredo. Even though Bento had a good young option in Nelson Oliveira on his bench, he waited much longer to make a change. Almeida wasted a chance with a horrific shot in the 57th minute, the first of three abysmal shots that went well off target before he was finally substituted for Oliveira in the 81st minute.

Spain would make their second substitution in the 61st minute, bringing on Jesus Navas for David Silva. It was a poor match for Silva, who has had an excellent tournament to this point, and this change turned out to be a very positive one for del Bosque. Navas's pace and direct running caused problems for Portugal throughout the rest of the second half and extra time. Spain made their final sub just before the end of normal time, with Pedro replacing Xavi Hernandez, a switch that moved Andres Iniesta inside.

Ultimately, there wouldn't be too many chances in the second half. Spain struggled to create them throughout the half even though Fabregas and Navas were upgrades over the men they replaced. Portugal's defense and midfield played well, and they created one of the best chances of the game in the 90th minute. The Portuguese defense cleared well on a Spain corner kick and broke out quickly, creating a three-on-three counter attack. Raul Meireles had a chance to play Ronaldo in one-on-one with Casillas, but placed his pass just behind his captain. Ronaldo recovered well to create a shooting chance, but hit a horrible right-footed shot well wide of the target. With no goals through 90 minutes, the sides headed for extra time.

The first 10 minutes of extra time were very uneventful, but things began to get fun right at the end of the first extra time period. In the 101st minute, Navas blasted a shot high when it looked like he was going to hit the target from inside the area. Two minutes later, Jordi Alba set up Iniesta for a close-range shot, but Rui Patricio made an absolutely spectacular reaction save, then recovered to gather the ball two seconds later. Just before the end of the period, Sergio Ramos hit an excellent free kick just inches wide.

In the 113th minute, Portugal made a risky substitution and it almost backfired. Bento brought on pacy winger Silvestre Varela for Meireles in an attempt to go for the win, but that created a midfield that was extremely wide open, leading to Spain's domination of the final seven minutes of extra time. They created something immediately, taking advantage of the space in midfield with a Pedro breakaway. The Portugal defense recovered brilliantly, however, and Fabio Coentrao made an excellent clearance. Spain were well on top until the end, with the final minutes of extra time being played entirely in the Portugal penalty area, but their defense held on for penalties.

The penalty shootout started with a magnificent save by Patricio on Xabi Alonso, but he was instantly matched by his counterpart. Casillas kept the shootout level by making a save of his own on Joao Moutinho. The next three penalties were made without incident to put Spain up 2-1 when Alves walked up to the penalty spot.

Many will point to the following penalty by Spain as the turning point in the shootout, but it very well could have been this as well. Alves apparently broke the order set by his manager, and Nani was forced to run up and tell his teammate that it was actually his turn to take a spot kick. Alves walked back to the halfway line and Nani buried a brilliant penalty to make it 2-2.

Sergio Ramos was next up and hit a brilliant chipped penalty, a la Andrea Pirlo, past Casillas to make it 3-2. That brought Alves up to the spot. Whether he was rattled by Nani making him wait, by Ramos's chip or by nothing at all, it is unclear. Alves missed his spot kick, rattling the crossbar.

That brought up Fabregas, who sealed the victory for Spain. Depending on how one looks at it, it was either the perfect penalty or a lucky miss for Fabregas, whose shot hit the inside of the post and snuck into the back of the net to give Spain the 4-2 win. Incredibly, La Roja were allowed to win a shootout without Ronaldo ever attempting a penalty.

You can find all of our previous coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Time For A Shootout

Update: Final score Portugal 0-0 Spain, La Roja win on penalties

Before Sunday, no game in Euro 2012 had been scoreless. Since then, we've had 240 minutes without a goal, which isn't really a very good advert for the sport. You can probably blame Gigi Buffon (Glen Johnson) and Rui Patricio (Andres Iniesta) for that one. Anyway, 0-0 after 120 minutes here means that Portugal vs. Spain has gone to penalties. Hooray penalties!

Spain did manage to kick it up a notch in extra time, going close via Iniesta and with substitutes Pedro and Jesus Navas causing a tiring Portugal defence some real problems. It was, however, too little too late, and now we go to spot kicks. Are the European and world champions going out at the semifinal stage? No team has ever defended the Euros...

First up are Spain.

Xabi Alonso MISSES. A fantastic save from Rui Patricio, diving to his left to keep out a well-struck kick!

Joao Moutinho MISSES. Iker Casillas saves it to his right. Not a good kick.

Andres Iniesta SCORES. Down the middle, easy as you like.

Pepe SCORES. Long run-up, slotted into the bottom corner past Casillas.

Gerard Pique SCORES. Smashed in, great penalty, just out of Rui Patricio's reach.

Bruno Alves Nani SCORES. Right into the top corner. Unstoppable.

Sergio Ramos SCORES. Remember his last penalty, the one from the Champions League semifinal? Imagine the opposite of that.

Bruno Alves MISSES. Off the crossbar! So close, and yet so far. You'd have to wonder whether Nani hauling him back for spot kick number three messed him up.

Cesc Fabregas SCORES! In off the post! SPAIN GO TO THE EURO 2012 FINAL.

We have live coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Extra Time Ahoy!

Update: Final score Portugal 0-0 Spain, La Roja win on penalties

We've had ninety minutes of scoreless football, so now it's extra time in the Euro 2012 semifinal between Spain and Portugal. I'd like to say this is a surprise, but it's not - most of the life has been choked out of the match by two good midfields and there simply haven't been many chances for either side to score. Spain have been the better team, but you'd have to expect that Portugal are pretty happy with going to extra time, because they're on two extra days' rest.

They will, however, not be happy about this:

That was their big chance; that was Cristiano Ronaldo's big chance. The stage was set perfectly for him to be a hero, the man who beat the unbeatable. And he completely fluffed his lines. Whoopsie. Miguel Veloso takes out his anger by wiping out Jordi Alba on the right. That's five bookings for Portugal now. Tetchy!

We have live coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Negredo Experiment Ends

Looks like Vicente del Bosque has had enough of this nonsense - Cesc Fabregas is coming on for the sublimely disappointing Alvaro Negredo. Spain are back to six midfielders with that, which means they're much more likely to control the midfield. With Negredo having a poor game, they're probably more likely to create chances as well. So that was a fun experiment. Fernando Llorente is sitting on the bench, presumably crying.

Anyway, not much has happened in the second half as of yet. They're doing the wave at the Donbass Arena, which should give you a good idea of just how exciting this is. Spain are in control, but hardly well on top, but the chances haven't really been forthcoming and it's still 0-0.

We have live coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Good Match, But 0-0 Halftime Score

Update: Final score Portugal 0-0 Spain, La Roja win on penalties

Portugal and Spain haven't produced a great deal of goal-scoring opportunities or truly significant events in the first half of their Euro 2012 semifinal, which means that Portugal have probably been the slightly better side. Their midfield is doing a great job at harassing Spain and breaking up play, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao are winning the battle down the left flank. It's been interesting as far as scoreless games go, but neutrals will still want to see quite a bit more action after a 0-0 first half.

Vicente del Bosque sparked a bit of a controversy and tactical debate before the match even started by picking Alvaro Negredo over all of Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Llorente. Even Sevilla fans were likely perplexed by the choice, which hasn't quite worked out. He's had a poor match thus far for La Roja.

Portugal started the game pressing Spain and looked to be doing so to some success until they had a bit of a breakdown in the 9th minute. Bruno Alves won the ball back in the penalty area following a cross, but he passed the ball right to Alvaro Arbeloa. The right back had a wide-open shot at goal, but smoked it over the bar.

It would be 20 minutes before Portugal allowed another dangerous chance, as they looked like the superior team for a long period. Their midfield did well to prevent Spain from playing their game, with Miguel Veloso keeping his position well, Joao Moutinho passing well and Raul Meireles playing the role of mosquito, annoying the Spanish midfield constantly. Unfortunately for Portugal, they failed to make the most out of this long period of good play, thanks mostly to poor long balls by Veloso and their defenders.

Spain created a good chance from an unlikely source, a long ball, in the 29th minute. Negredo provided his best contribution of the game by holding up the ball, then starting a string of passes that led to Andres Iniesta on the left side of the penalty area. He moved himself into a position to shoot, but hit his shot just over the crossbar.

Ronaldo answered with a chance of his own just two minutes later, taking a great touch to set himself up for a hard, low shot towards the near post, but he missed by inches.

The final 15 minutes of the half were a stalemate, with neither team creating much going forward. Portugal will be happy with their first half display, and they look like they're very capable of both nicking a goal and preventing Spain from scoring one. They don't have to make any changes, but del Bosque will have to consider altering his team right from the beginning of the second half.

We have live coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Match Underway

We're up at running at the Donbass Arena in the Ukraine, where Spain are taking on Portugal for the right to advance to the Euro 2012 final. Spain, obviously, are the favourites, but many think that the time is ripe for an upset of Vincente del Bosque's incredible foray into the depths of footballing ennui. And who better to do that than that epitome of brutal individuality, Cristiano Ronaldo?

Spain kick us off, but give the ball away almost immediately and Portugal can go on a rather cautious attack. They're naturally worried about opening up too much space behind their lines which Spain can exploit, so they're being very intelligent with the ball. Eventually they win a pair of corners - you'd have to think they're a major threat on set pieces - but Iker Casillas can claim the second and any danger is averted.

We have live coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Portugal Vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals: Lineups

Update: Final score Portugal 0-0 Spain, La Roja win on penalties

There are no surprises with Portugal's lineup for the Euro 2012 semifinal clash with Spain. Hugo Almeida is in for the injured Helder Postiga, but other than that they're essentially the same Portugal side you've come to know and love so far this tournament. Spain, on the other hand, have sprung something of a shock - they're playing a striker.

Vicente del Bosque has been playing around with Cesc Fabregas as a false nine, essentially playing with six midfielders, but today he's starting a legitimate centre forward. We don't even have to make Fernando Torres jokes, because said centre forward is Alvaro Negredo. I guess Fernando Llorente is still lost.

Portugal starting lineup (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Fabio Coentrao, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Joao Pereira; Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles; Cristiano Ronalod, Hugo Almeida, Nani.

Spain starting lineup (4-3-3): Iker Casillas; Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez; Andres Iniesta, Alvaro Negredo, David Silva.

We'll have live coverage in our Portugal vs. Spain, Euro 2012 Semifinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Cristiano Ronaldo Could Secure His Legacy

If greatness depends on legacy, then Portugal's captain can have the Messi-Ronaldo debate won forever in a week.

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