Euro 2012 Live Blog: Only Penalty Kick Seperates Iberian Brothers Spain and Portugal, Spain on Way to Final

Euro 2012 Live Blog: Only Penalty Kick Seperates Iberian Brothers Spain and Portugal, Spain on Way to FinalFinal, 0-0 (Spain wins 4-2 on penalties): Spain is through to its third consecutive final at a major international tournament. It fought Portugal to a stalemate over 120 minutes, but triumphed on penalty kicks.

Spain showed both its class and vulnerability in the victory. Portugal made it difficult for Spain to create scoring opportunities for most of the game. It was only in extra time that Spain posed a constant threat.

Portugal had its chances in the contest, and Spain’s pressure didn’t stop it from testing Casillas. Ronaldo was wayward with his shooting at the most inopportune times. But it wasn’t all his fault. Nani and Almeida offered little to nothing in support.

The shootout tested the nerves of both teams, and the players showed it in abundance. The Spanish players’ wealth of experience in such situations (for clubs and country) may have been decisive.

Spain will face the winner of Italy-Germany in Sunday’s final.

That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.

Penalty kicks: Fabregas wins it for Spain by knocking it in off the left post.

Spain is through to the final. Portugal is out of Euro 2012.

Penalty kicks: Now Alves is up. He and Nani got confused.

And the defender bangs his shot off the crossbar. It’s heartbreaking for him.

Penalty kicks: Ramos is up and beats the Portuguese goalkeeper with a chip.

Penalty kicks: We’ve found Nani took it from Alves and drove his penalty into the roof of the net.

Penalty kicks: Pique goes for power and placement to beat Patricio.

Penalty kicks: Pepe faces his club teammate and slots it underneath the diving Casillas.

Did he psyche him out?

Penalty kicks: Iniesta slots his shot in.

Penalty kicks: Casillas matches his counterpart by stopping Moutinho’s effort.

Penalty kicks: Patricio saves the effort with a cat-like stop.

Penalty kicks: Spain will shoot first, and Alonso will take it.

Penalty kicks: Both teams form close-knit huddles, inside of which Bento and Del Bosque are dropping little pearls of wisdom. It’s good to see.

End of Extra Time, 0-0: This one looks like it’s headed to penalty kicks.

Much respect goes to Spain for playing such an open game in the 30 minutes of extra time.

The last 240 minutes of soccer at Euro 2012 has yielded exactly zero goals, but it wasn’t a spoiled harvest.

Both games (England-Italy and this one) have been gripping encounters.

111th minute, 0-0: Portugal is sitting a bit deeper in the second half of extra time, and Spain is asserting itself.

All that continuity that Bento stresses could come back to haunt him at this point. Portugal’s players have played throughout the tournament, and they have to be gassed at this point.

Meireles is coming off for Varela. The thought of penalty kicks could be behind the switch.

105th minute, 0-0: Ramos nearly buried a free kick from distance at the end of the first 15 minutes of extra time.

The first half of extra time was gripping. Can the second match it?

104th minute, 0-0: Patricio just saved Portugal.

Iniesta found himself with an open shot at goal, and the Portuguese goalkeeper got down and made the most important save of his career.

100th minute, 0-0: Pedro is down writhing in pain after a run in with the flying body of (you guessed it) Pepe.

91st minute, 0-0: It’s almost fitting that two of the most complete and balanced teams have produced 90 minutes of scoreless soccer.

End of regular time, 0-0: We are headed to extra time.

90th minute, 0-0: Portugal explodes forward into the counter-attack, and has its best chance to score in a long time.

Ronaldo, who received a pass on the left side of the area, had a good look at goal and shot. But he hit it with so much power that it ended up in the stands.

A fan might have even been hurt, as it was hit so hard and so wide.

89th minute, 0-0: Xavi, the undisputed king of the pass-masters (although Andrea Pirlo and Matt Averna might disagree), has come off. Pedro takes his place.

That is some statement by Del Bosque to take him off. He has been Spain’s best passer for some time, but his coach thinks the team has a better chance to win without him on the field than with him in there.

84th minute, 0-0: Arbeloa blocked a Ronaldo free kick with his arm, and the lethal forward gets another chance 10 yards closer to goal … but he wastes it.

See Omar’s advice down below for our thoughts on the matter.

80th minute, 0-0: Alba fell victim to Nani’s studs.

A few minutes prior to that, Nani was stepped on by Ramos. Maybe the Portugal winger just decided to give as good as he got.

67th minute, 0-0: Pereira, Coentrao, Pepe and Busquets have all been booked in the scond half.

Coentrao was spotted making crude gesture to Reina, who was barking at him from the bench.

The feeling between the two Iberian teams has gone from neighborly respect to utter contempt.

All it took was 20 minutes of the second half.

61st minute, 0-0: The game is heating up a little. Pepe is booked for delivering a flying knee to the back of Alonso.

The Spain midfielder stayed down on the field for a while.

It was really only a matter of time before Pepe’s aggression became a talking point. It always does.

54th minute, 0-0: Spain is bringing Fabregas on for Negredo.

The former Arsenal captain is Spain’s not-so-secret weapon. He has been on the field (as a substitute) in the finals of both Euro 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

When he comes on the field, Spain is more dangerous in the attack.

51st minute, 0-0: Credit Spain for committing players to the attack early in the second half.

It has sent five or six players into the Portuguese half on more than one occasion, and it’s not because Portugal is sitting deep with men behind the ball.

Halftime, 0-0: The first half has come to an end, with Spain and Portugal deadlocked.

The first 45 minutes were strangely lacking in drama or major tension. It could be because both teams (and players that are so familiar with each other) showed too much respect for their opponents.

Each side looked to capitalize on any mistakes the other made. But Spain and Portugal are championship-caliber teams, who don’t make many errors out there on the field.

39th minute, 0-0: Spain’s stubborn refusal to use the width of the field is playing right into Bento’s hands.

Pepe and Alves have been immense at the center of the Portuguese defense, and Spain is attacking its opponent’s area of strength.

We’re pretty sure it goes against one of the principles laid out by Sun Tzu in The Art of War.

30th minute, 0-0: Has anyone seen Nani?

We predicted he’d have an impact in this game, strictly on the basis of the law of averages.

He has a lot of ability and has played almost every minute at this tournament. But the Manchester United star has been almost anonymous throughout Euro 2012.

After 30 minutes, he’s continuing that trend.

25th minute, 0-0: Ronaldo just took a shot with his back to goal.

He skied it hundreds of rows into the stands instead of laying it off to a nearby teammate. It may have been the single most selfish act of Euro 2012.

19th minute, 0-0: What we haven’t seen so far is Spain dominating possession in the opening 20 minutes.

The pass-masters are moving the ball around well, but Portugal seems equally comfortable with the ball.

Ninth minute, 0-0: Arbeloa’s effort is the first moment of danger in the game.

It might be the first time all tournament that the Spanish fullback has touched the ball in the final third. His side-footed shot went inches over the bar.

Fourth minute, 0-0: Remember Portugal’s 4-0 drubbing of Spain (in Lisbon) back in November 2010?

If not, you should. Most of the players on the field in this game appeared in that game. Both teams have gone from strength to strength since then, but that game will loom large in this meeting.

Pregame: Strikerless Spain is no more. Negredo will start in place of Fabregas, who was effective in the center forward role earlier in the tournament.

Continuity is one of the principle reasons Portugal has made it this far. Manager Paulo Bento makes his first change to the starting lineup at Euro 2012, as Almeida starts at striker in place of Postiga.

2 p.m.: Here are the lineups:

Portugal

Rui Patricio (12), goalkeeper
Joao Pereira (21), right back
Bruno Alves (2), center back
Pepe (3), center back
Fabio Coentrao (5), left back
Miguel Veloso (4), midfielder
Joao Moutinho (8), midfielder
Raul Meireles (16), midfielder
Nani (17), forward
Cristiano Ronaldo (7), forward
Hugo Almeida (9), striker

Substitutes

Eudardo (1), goalkeeper
Beto (22), goalkeeper
Ricardo Costa (13), defender
Rolando (14), defender
Miguel Lopes (19), defender
Custodio (6), midfielder
Ricardo Quaresma (10), midfielder
Ruben Micael (15), midfielder
Hugo Viana (20), midfielder
Nelson Oliveira (11), midfielder
Silvestre Varela (18), striker
Helder Postiga (23), striker

Spain

Iker Casillas (1), goalkeeper
Alvaro Arbeloa (17), right back
Sergio Ramos (15), center back
Gerard Pique (3), center back
Jordi Alba (18), left back
Sergio Busquets (16), midfielder
Xabi Alonso (14), midfielder
Xavi (8), midfielder
Andres Iniesta (6), forward
David Silva (21), forward
Alvaro Negredo (11), striker

Substitutes

Victor Valdes (12), goalkeeper
Pepe Reina (23), goalkeeper
Raul Albiol (2), defender
Javi Martinez (4), defender
Juanfran (5), defender
Cesc Fabregas (10), midfielder
Santi Cazorla (20), midfielder
Jesus Navas (22), midfielder
Pedro (7), foward
Juan Mata (13), forward
Fernando Torres (9), striker
Fernando Llorente (19)

12 a.m. ET: “You come at the king, you best not miss,” was the advice that great philosopher Omar (from The Wire) gave his would-be assassin. And now we’re telling Cristiano Ronaldo the same thing.

Portugal meets Spain in the semifinal of the 2012 UEFA European Championship on Wednesday. Although Spain is the reigning European and world champion, Portugal is feeling confident about its chances.

It is riding a tidal wave largely created by Cristiano Ronaldo’s unstoppable brilliance. The superstar forward scored three goals in his last two games and he’s certainly basking in the plaudits of the moment.

But he has yet to score against Spain, having been blanked on three previous occasions. He has also hit the post four times at Euro 2012. Spain likes to hog the ball, so he probably won’t get as many scoring chances as he’s used to. Never have the stakes been so high for the Portugal and Real Madrid star. His legacy is on the line.

Spain is looking to win its third-straight major international tournament, becoming the first team to achieve the feat. The Iberian derby is the perfect test for a team that has admittedly not lit up Euro 2012. It’s not that any team has beaten the “pass-masters” at this tournament. It’s just Spain hasn’t swept aside any of its opponents (except Ireland). There are questions about the Spanish attack, as it has started two games without a recognized striker.

Portugal also has the advantage of two more days of rest than Spain. It beat the Czech Republic on Thursday, while Spain downed France on Saturday. But all these nuggets of information will go out the window once the Once the first ball is kicked in this crunch Iberian “classico.”

Join us for all the action between Spain-Portugal starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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