Spain through after penalty shootout

Spain and Italy, the finalists of EURO 2012, played out 120 minutes of fascinating football in Fortaleza, with a sudden-death penalty shoot-out required to separate the sides.

The conclusion finally came after Leonardo Bonucci blazed over from 12 yards to give Jesus Navas the opportunity to send his side through to the final in the Maracana. The Manchester City midfielder made no mistake to break Italian hearts – and condemn Gli Azzurri to their fifth loss in six penalty shoot-outs in FIFA competitions.

Cesare Prandelli’s side were arguably the better side in normal time. They were organised, sharp, solid and kept the ball well, even drawing ‘Ole’s’ from the crowd at one point. On reflection, they would have been delighted with their play, but devastated not to have scored. Christian Maggio and Daniele De Rossi will rue not scoring with headers when unmarked, while Emanuele Giaccherini hit the post.

There was more spark from Spain in extra time, with Juan Mata controlling the tempo and Navas a constant threat down the right. Jordi Alba went close; Xavi hit the post – as Vicente Del Bosque and Prandelli patrolled the touchline nervously. Their stress levels increased still further when the spot-kicks began. Even Shakira looked relieved when her partner Gerard Pique put his penalty past Gianluigi Buffon.

Twelve penalties were scored consecutively before Bonucci was unlucky with the 13th. Navas put his effort low to Buffon’s right and although the keeper dived the right way, it was just beyond his reach. Spain booked their place against Brazil – and the world will be watching.

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