Euro 2012 analysis: Fabregas denies Ronaldo the last kick
Cristiano Ronaldo was billed as the player most likely to make a difference in the first Euro 2012 semi-final but as Spain beat Portugal 4-2 on penalties the tournament's joint-top scorer did not get a kick - literally.
Fabregas penalty puts Spain into final
Chosen as Portugal's fifth penalty taker, it was all set for the Real Madrid forward to seal his place among a long line of international greats after both sides failed to score in 120 minutes.
However, when Bruno Alves missed Portugal's fourth spot-kick to give Spain a 3-2 lead, Cesc Fabregas stepped up to secure Spain's place in the final leaving Ronaldo as a mere spectator.
The choice to leave their star striker until last came after Portugal had already mixed up the order of their takers. Alves approached the goal ready to take the third penalty but was caught by Nani who told his team-mate that the centre-back would go fourth.
Nani converted, but when Alves returned to penalty spot and crashed the ball against the crossbar, Fabregas clinched Spain's victory and Ronaldo's opportunity vanished.
Spain's victory in numbers
Between them Portugal and Spain had four shots on target in two hours of football but did manage 27 shots in all
Against Portugal, Spain managed a pass completion rate of 75% compared to an average of 91% in Euro 2012 so far
They were also limited to 6.3 passes per minute, their lowest in the tournament so far after 8.1 against Italy, 9.5 v Republic of Ireland, 7.7 v Croatia and 7 against France
Spain have conceded just one goal en route to the Euro 2012 final. They have now not let in a goal for 419 minutes
It is only the second time Spain have won a major tournament game on penalties after beating Italy on their way to winning Euro 2008
Spain are now 19 competitive games unbeaten since losing their opening 2010 World Cup game against Switzerland
Alan Shearer on Match of the Day:
"Portugal would have settled for penalties before the game but it was absolutely ridiculous that Ronaldo went last. You have to put him before the two centre-halves [Pepe and Alves] that took them too.
"Sometimes the last penalty is the glory penalty but I can't understand why they left it that late. As the captain you have to go up and say 'I'm going first'.
"There was no point in him going fifth. We were already fearing the worst for Alves because once Nani pulled him back it ruined his confidence."
Alan Hansen on Match of the Day:
"The penalties provided the drama and excitement at the end but it wasn't a great game. I thought Spain deserved to win because of the manner in which way they played in extra-time, but only just.
"It is a sign of a good side that even when you look tired you can pick yourself up and start playing again. During extra-time it was an amazing turnaround because for 90 minutes there was no fluency and their passing was appalling.
"During the penalty shoot-out, it was obvious that Alves didn't want to take one because Nani came over and took over from him.
"When Sergio Ramos, a central defender, chipped his penalty over the keeper like Italian Andrea Pirlo it was an unbelievable moment.
"And what a penalty from Cesc Fabregas to win it. It left Ronaldo as the last man standing."
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