Spain rode their luck to reach
their third major final in a row and Portugal were the better
team for long periods, coach Vicente del Bosque said after a 4-2
win on penalties in their Euro 2012 semi-final on Wednesday.
The goalless Iberian derby began and ended brightly, but was
full of largely stalemate football for extended spells in between.
The spot-kick outcome effectively came down to who had more
luck with the woodwork and the world and European champions
With Spain leading 3-2 in the shootout, Portugal's Bruno
Alves saw his penalty bounce away after striking the bar and
Spain's Cesc Fabregas sent his side through when his shot went
in off the post.
"We had loads of luck in the penalties," Del Bosque told a
news conference. "But I want to express my congratulations to
the Portuguese side because they played a great tournament, but
we were luckier, we really had all the luck this time."
He also said Portugal played well overall, defended better
than Spain for periods and looked dangerous in attack, but that
his substitutions - bringing on Jesus Navas and Pedro for David
Silva and Xavi - changed the outcome.
"We created more when they came on, we caused them more
problems and it was vital I brought them on. We were looking
tired and we needed the extra pace, especially in extra time
when Pedro came on," he said.
"Extra time though proved our players are gaining in
experience. They had the mental strength, they could deal with
Del Bosque said he had no difficulty finding players to take
the penalties with Xabi Alonso - who missed - Andres Iniesta,
Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Fabregas all keen.
"There was no problem, Cesc told me he wanted take the fifth
one to score the winning penalty and he did," he added.
The coach was not worried or particularly bothered who Spain
would meet in Sunday's final in Kiev. Their opponents will be
known after Italy play Germany in the second semi-final in
Warsaw on Thursday.
"That will be a great game, and whoever we play, we play. I
don't mind. Whoever we face in the final, will be a very tough
opponent," he said.
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