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Fábregas hails ‘miracle’ as Spain book their place in the final

27th June 2012

Midfielder’s penalty puts Spain in third straight major final
• Fábregas had a premonition he would score winning spot-kick

Cesc Fábregas hailed Spain’s penalty shootout victory over Portugal as a “miracle” and revealed his conversion of the winning spot-kick came after he had a premonition he would do just that.

Fábregas scored from the spot after Bruno Alves had struck the bar for Portugal as the defending champions claimed their place in the Euro 2012 final with a 4-2 win in the shootout. The match finished goalless after extra-time with chances few and far between.

“Being in another final is a miracle, it’s very emotional,” said Fábregas. “I had a funny feeling about the penalties and I was thinking about them this afternoon. That life has given me another chance like this is really incredible.

“When I stepped up to take the penalty I said to the ball that we had to make history and it shouldn’t let me down. They told me initially to take the second one but I said no give me the fifth as I had this premonition.”

Vicente del Bosque praised his side’s fighting spirit and looked ahead to Sunday’s final against Germany or Italy. “The players have played so many matches and they have to show their best in one more,” Spain’s coach said. Del Bosque added: “It was a very even match but maybe we were a little better in extra time.

“They looked a bit tired, but there were few chances before that. It wasn’t easy to get through their defence. They were superior when it came to defence and we didn’t have that many opportunities so it was very balanced. In extra time it was slightly different and we had lots of luck with the penalties.

“I would like to express my congratulations to Portugal because they played a great tournament, but we were luckier this time.”

Del Bosque is aware his side will need to play better in the final, although he is not worried about who they will face in the showpiece.

“Portugal were in control today and both teams only had a few chances to score, so we have to improve on this,” he said. The other semi-final will be a great match and whoever our opponent is in the final, that will also be a great match. But we don’t care about who our opponents are.”

The Portugal coach, Paulo Bento, knocked back criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo not being employed earlier in the shootout. The captain was kept back to take the fifth penalty but never got the chance.

“Well we had this plan and if it would have been 4-4 and he would have taken the last penalty we would talk in a different way,” Bento said.

He rued his side’s missed opportunities: “I think we were the better team but we couldn’t take our chances. Spain were stronger in extra time but we could have won it in the first 90 minutes because we were very good in the first half and at the end of the second half.

“If I had to choose a way of losing I wouldn’t choose this one but you have to lose some way. We have in my opinion played a very good tournament. Spain is a great team and we can leave the pitch with our heads held high.

“We can be sure we can compete with any team in any tournament at any level. We know how to compete and that’s what we’ve shown. Spain really deserve to be in the finals but, at the same time, I want to thank and praise my players for what they have shown in this tournament.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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