Euro 2012 Live

Euro 2012 Live

IT Wed, Jun 27
 

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  • 18:58
    And then there were four. We may have started out with Europe’s brightest and best (and a raggle-taggle bunch hailing from these shores) three short weeks ago but the wheat has now been sorted from the chaff and only Europe’s elite remain. And with the Germans and Italians waiting in the wings, tonight defending champions Spain meet Portugal expecting to continue their march to another final.

    Conventional wisdom before the tournament had Spain firmly installed as favourites and, despite failing to reach the lofty standards they have set for themselves in the past, the tiki-taka men have cruised through to the semis. If we are to believe the hype, just Cristiano Ronaldo stands between them and a third straight final in major tournaments. But for a match that is being billed as Cristiano v Spain, Portugal are by no means a one-trick pony.

    Iniesta, Xavi, Silva and Fabregas will have to play their way through a midfield anchored by Veloso with Moutinho and Merieles snapping at their heels. Crikey, what Giovanni Trapattoni would have given for the sort of resources Paul Bento has at his disposal.

    You can follow the match on our Matchtracker here and follow this live blog as the action unfolds.
  • 19:09
    The team sheets are in and the big news is that Alvaro Negredo starts up front for Spain. Fabregas is the man to make way with Fernando Torres taking up his customary place on the bench. For Portugal, there are no surprises with Helder Postiga's thigh injury keeping him out and Hugo Almeida coming in.
  • 19:30
    So another snub for Torres, deemed only good enough to start against Ireland at these finals. Don’t know who should feel worse about that, him or us. But Fernando Llorente might have a case for a bit of a sulk for if Del Bosque was looking for a focal point, there are few more accomplished target men than the Bilbao frontman.
  • 19:47
    1 min: And we're away. Without the yellow peril hanging over them – all cards were scrubbed after the quarters - the players are bound to get stuck into each other good and early. A good leveller early doors is on the cards.
  • 19:56
    8 mins:  First chance for Spain, and it was a good un. Iniesta ghosts down the left and feeds Negredo on the penalty spot. The striker can’t quite get the ball out of his feet but it rolls loosely to Arbeloa who tries to pass it into the top corner. And fails. Miserably.
  • 19:59
    10 mins: As sure as eggs are eggs, Spain are now owning the ball. One consequence is that Ronaldo has been very much a peripheral figure in the first 10 minutes, making the odd half-hearted attempt to close down a red shirt but largely sticking his hands on his hips.
  • 20:00
    13 mins: Scratch that, Ronaldo just skinned Pique on the outside but his cross is marginally too close to Casillas and the Spanish keeper averts the danger.
  • 20:04
    16 mins: And it’s Ronaldo on Pique once more, the defender giving him a little nibble * on the edge of the box to concede a free kick. The effort is smashed off the wall but Portugal are starting to build a head of steam here.

    * Ray Houghton’s appraisal of the situation
  • 20:07
    20 mins: Nani slices through Jordi Alba and Sergio Ramos but with acres of space in front of him elects to dive. But Cuneyt Cakir waves play on and Nani can’t have too many complaints.
  • 20:11
    25 mins: Spain again knocking the ball around confidently, but its all a bit Jamie Redknapp with the play crabbing sideways this way and that and with Negredo not offering much of an out ball there has been little to trouble Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal.
  • 20:15
    29 mins: Huge shout for a penalty as Ramos smothers the ball with his torso in the Spanish box. Could have gone either way but not given on this occasion. Spain are in a bit of a muddle at the back with Arbeloa again giving his critics plenty of ammunition, not just with his lack of attacking prowess but the quality of his defending. Which has been poor.
  • 20:18
    32 mins: Ronaldo shaves the outside of the post with a snap shot from the edge of the box, with Portugal again looking more of a threat. The referee is endearing himself to Bento’s side, though, with practically all the marginal decisions going the way of the defending champs.
  • 20:22
    36 mins: Seems like a decent atmosphere in the Donbass Arena but the sight of so many empty seats at a European semi-final is not a whole-hearted endorsement of Uefa’s decision to send the championships east. On the pitch, Nani is receiving treatment for a facial injury but is fine to continue.
  • 20:26
    40 mins: While we’re enjoying the footie, spare a thought for Leinster hard man Sean O’Brien who has been busy bringing in the silage down on the farm all day and night. And this from a man in need of surgery that’ll keep him out for four months. Can’t see Nani behind the wheel of a Massey myself.
  • 20:27
    41 mins: Sergio Ramos finally picks up a yellow after bodychecking Ronaldo as Portugal broke. Not before time as he’s sailed a touch too close to the wind at times tonight.
  • 20:27
    brooder Never seen Spain so nervous Portugal have this one
  • 20:29
    42 mins: They're certainly some way short of their fluid best alright Brooder, but still reckon Portugal will have to score at least two goals to win this outright.
  • 20:33
    45 mins (+1) - half time: The ref blows up for half-time and  that’s not the Spain we’ve come to know and love. Far from being knocked out of their stride, they are simply unable to get a passing game going with Portugal closing down the space superbly and causing more than their fair share of problems. The decision to bring in Negredo looks to have been a shocker but Almeida has been equally useless at the other end.
  • 20:33
    brooder They will get the goals they need......I think it has a lot to do with how well they know each others weaknesses
  • 20:42
    Not a bad half, all in all, but neither keeper has had a real save to make as Bento wins the tactical battle hands down. But Spain, who are sending it long far more than usual, will surely offer more after the break.
  • 20:47
    46 mins: “As things stand, Spain are in trouble,” reckons Dunphy in the RTE studio. Johnny Giles concurs and is “worried” for Spain. No changes for either side at the break, but Del Bosque will need to shake things up if his side continue to misfire.
  • 20:53
    49 mins: Not too much to report so far in this half, more of the same so far from Spain, with Alonso of all people guilty of giving the ball away cheaply.
  • 20:55
    52 mins: Finally Spain get their passing going, knocking it around patiently before Arbeloa whips in an inviting cross. But there aren’t enough bodies in the box and Portugal knock it behind for a corner that is comfortably cleared. Looks like Fabregas is getting ready to come on, but for who??
  • 20:56
    54mins: And it’s Negredo who makes way, with Del Bosque deciding he doesn’t need a striker after all.
  • 21:02
    59 mins: Almeida lets fly twice in quick succession, first from long range that sails over and then again from a tight angle the doesn’t trouble Casillas either.
  • 21:04
    61 mins: Jesus is on for Spain, with the ineffectual Silva withdrawn. Still no striker for Spain, and still no real cutting edge.
  • 21:11
    67 mins: Alonso tries to chip the keeper from well inside his own half but the effort is ambitious in the extreme, trickling out mile wide. But Portugal gift possession back to Spain and Xavi has a crack, drawing a save – the first of the night – from Patricio.
  • 21:15
    71 mins: Ronaldo is blocked off by Arbeloa and wins a free 25 yards from the goal. This is Cristiano territory . . . but it fizzes over the bar.
  • 21:19
    75 mins: All a little flat over the last few minutes, with both sides lacking urgency and both keepers having precious little to do.
  • 21:23
    79 mins: In other news, after taking an age to consider his position Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk has done what everyone expected him to and resigned. Back in Donestk Nani is caught by Ramos, allowing Veloso to swing one into the mixer. But he misses that, and aims it directly at Casillas.
  • 21:23
    81 mins: Almeida is replaced by Nelson Oliveira, who has 10 mins to try and win this for Portugal.
  • 21:26
    84  mins: Another free kick for Ronaldo, almost in an identical position as his earlier sighter. Again, he strikes a pose, fires it into the wall and it whacks Arbeloa’s hands. Another free, this time 10 yards closer.
  • 21:33
    90 mins:  One last throw of the dice from Portugal as they get a four on three break, but Meireles’s through ball to Ronaldo is slightly behind him and the winger’s shot is even more askew, ending up in row z.
  • 21:36
    Full-time: A draining second half, for all concerned, ends with Spain sending hopeful balls forward seemingly content to take the contest into extra-time. With both keepers mere bystanders, here’s hoping for better over the next half hour
  • 21:43
    91 mins: The masseuses have been busy and we’re back in action, with Spain straight on the attack but Fabregas is unable to get on the end of a Navas ball and Portugal relieve the pressure.
  • 21:47
    96 mins: Should we have penalties, both sides have fared indifferently in the past with Spain wining two and Portugal just one. Back on the pitch, Spain are pressing higher up the pitch with Iniesta causing problems but Patricio has yet to be tested.
  • 21:56
    brooder can see Spain winning now .....on styilsh sneaky goal
  • 21:58
    105 mins: Just enough time for Spain to take a free before we reach half-time, Ramos sending Patricio scurrying across his goal but failing to hit the target. Portugal look out on their legs and could well be happy to play for penalties at this stage.
  • 22:02
    107 mins: Coentrao raids down the left but his cross is a tired one and Ramos intercepts comfortably and sends Spain back on the attack.
  • 22:04
    110 mins: Just 10 minutes left for somebody to be a hero, with Iniesta and Fabregas looking the more likely contenders at this stage.
  • 22:05
    110 mins: Patricio becoming more and more involved, this time saving smartly to his right from Navas.
  • 22:09
    115 mins: Another fine chance for Spain, with Fabregas releasing Pedro only for the Barca winger to dally allowing Moutinho to make up the ground and hack it away. Spain creating plenty of opportunities now, you have to wonder where this ambition was over the normal 90 minutes.
  • 22:11
    117 mins: Time slipping away for Spain as Iniesta is pulled back for an offside with just over three minutes on the clock.
  • 22:15
    Full-time: And Portugal just about hang on, meaning we have the second penalty shootout of this tournament. Who can hold their nerve??
  • 22:19
    Both teams have their little huddles, the keepers get a bit of last minute advice, and it’s time for the lottery that is a shootout.
  • 22:21
    Portugal 0 Spain 0: Alonso is first to make the long walk, steadies himself, but Patricio tips it around the post. First blood to Portugal.
  • 22:22
    Portugal 0 Spain 1: Iniesta gets Spain off the mark.
  • 22:23
    Portugal 1 Spain 1: And Pepe follows suit, guiding it into the corner.
  • 22:23
    Portugal 1 Spain 2: Pique also finds the corner, putting Spain back in the driving seat.
  • 22:24
    Portugal 2 Spain 2: That's the best ony yet from Nani. Unstoppable from the Man U winger.
  • 22:25
    Portugal 2 Spain 3: Ramos does a Pirlo, not quite as stylish but not a bad effort for a defender.
  • 22:28
    Portugal 2 Spain 4: And Alves misses, crashing it off the bar. Fabregas has the chance to win it for Spain, and makes no mistake to send Spain into a third straight final. Superb pen from the midfielder as Spain win 4-2 on penalties.
  • 22:30
    Ronaldo, who didn’t even get a chance as the fifth penalty taker, makes his way from the tunnel as Spain celebrate out on the pitch. Germany or Italy await in Sunday’s decider, we’ll be back tomorrow night to see how the second semi-final unfolds.