Spain beats Portugal on penalty kicks, 4-2

Posted: June 29, 2012

Far from its best, Spain still advanced to another major final, beating Portugal, 4-2, in a penalty shootout in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Wednesday after a scoreless draw at the European Championship.

Cesc Fabregas, who came on as a substitute in the second half of regulation time, scored the deciding penalty after Bruno Alves hit the crossbar for Portugal moments earlier.

Spain, seeking its third straight major trophy after claiming titles at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, will next face either Germany or Italy on Sunday in Kiev.

Cristiano Ronaldo had several chances for Portugal, but he sent three shots well over the bar as his team held its own for the entire match. Ronaldo, who came alive with three goals in his last two matches at the tournament, did not take a penalty in the shootout. The Real Madrid star had been slated to take the fifth kick, but it never got that far.

After an often dour opening 90 minutes in which the Spanish failed to impress, the match livened up in the 30 minutes of extra time.

Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta forced Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio into a superb reflex save in the 103d minute. Iniesta ghosted into the penalty area then held his head in disbelief as Rui Patricio reacted brilliantly to get a strong hand on his shot after Jordi Alba cut the ball back toward the penalty spot.

Rui Patricio made another fine save to deny substitute Jesus Navas in the 111th.

Tempers frayed at times, with Portugal center half Pepe getting a yellow card for a challenge on Xabi Alonso as they went for a high ball. Ronaldo also received some heavy challenges late in the match.

In the shootout, Xabi had the first attempt saved by Rui Patricio before Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved Joao Moutinho's shot. Iniesta, Gerard Pique, and Sergio Ramos then all scored for Spain, while Pepe and Nani answered for Portugal.

"The first one wasn't so lucky, and then we scored the rest of them," Casillas said. "Yes, we really were lucky. Everything is about luck sometimes."

Dutch coach quits. Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk resigned after his team's surprising Euro 2012 group-stage exit.

The Dutch lost all three group games - to Germany, Portugal, and Denmark - after entering as one of the tournament favorites.

Van Marwijk largely stuck with the team that lost the World Cup final to Spain in extra time two years ago and paid the price.

Bale signs with Spurs. Midfielder Gareth Bale signed a new four-year contract with Tottenham Hotspur, binding the speedy winger to the north London club until 2016 amid reported interest from leading European teams.

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid were among the clubs linked with a move for the 22-year-old Welsh international, who has emerged as one of the English Premier League's standout players.

By scoring nine goals, Bale played a key role in helping Spurs finish fourth in the league last season.

Nasri apologizes. Midfielder Samir Nasri apologized to France supporters for the expletive-laced rant he aimed at a journalist following the 2-0 defeat to Spain in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

Nasri was walking through the interview area when the heated exchange took place after the journalist asked him for a reaction to the loss. Reports said the dispute escalated and Nasri challenged the journalist to take their argument further.

France coach Laurent Blanc and the national football federation criticized Nasri's behavior, and he faces possible disciplinary action.

"The supporters and in particular children should know that I regret that my language may have shocked them," Nasri tweeted.

He did not apologize to the reporter.

U.S. Open Cup. The visiting Seattle Sounders beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, Tuesday night in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal. Seattle will host Chivas USA, 2-1 winners over USL Pro club Charlotte Eagles, in a tournament semifinal on July 10.

The Union will host Sporting Kansas City in the other semifinal at PPL Park in Chester on July 11.

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