Skip to main content

Spain edge past stubborn Italy to create dream final with hosts Brazil

June 28, 2013 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
Sergio Ramos leads the celebrations as Jesus Navas' penalty takes Spain to Sunday's Confederations Cup final.
Sergio Ramos leads the celebrations as Jesus Navas' penalty takes Spain to Sunday's Confederations Cup final.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spain beat Italy 7-6 on penalties after semifinal ends goalless after 120 minutes
  • World Cup winners will now meet hosts Brazil in Sunday's Confederations Cup final
  • Italy have chance to seal third place against Uruguay on Sunday

(CNN) -- Reigning world and European champions Spain set up the purists' dream Confederations Cup final against host nation Brazil but only after squeaking past a stubborn Italian side on penalties.

The heavyweight European nations produced an entertaining game which somehow ended goalless after extra time, as both sides' endurance was tested to the limit in the heat of Fortaleza.

In contrast to the finishing seen in open play, the strikes at goal in the penalty shootout were of the highest standard until defender Leonardo Bonucci skied the 13th effort well wide of goal.

Read: Brazil scrape into Confederations Cup final

That allowed Jesus Navas to coolly fire Spain into Sunday's final as 7-6 winners on penalties -- so maintaining their hopes of holding the world, European and Confederations Cup titles all at once.

Having won the World Cup (2010), the European Championship (on three occasions) and the Olympics (1992), FIFA's so-called Festival of Champions -- which pits the continental champions against both the World Cup winners and hosts -- is the one trophy missing from Spain's illustrious cabinet.

Football continues as Brazilians protest
Brazil is thriving, so what gives?
Italian football clubs raided by police
Confederations Cup marred by protests
World Cup spending angers Brazilians
Brazil diplomat: Keep protests peaceful
Grievances unleashed in Brazil protests
Shocking video shows Brazil clashes
Why Brazilians are protesting

Yet Vicente del Bosque's side were not at their best against familiar foes and could have suffered an unexpected reverse had Italy not wasted a host of early opportunities, with Emanuele Giaccherini hitting a post early in extra time.

The absence of injured striker Mario Balotelli was keenly felt as Christian Maggio, Alberto Gilardino and Claudio Marchisio all missed gilt-edged opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.

"I think it was an excellent performance from both teams, who proved they are right at the top of the European game," Spain coach del Bosque told FIFA's official website.

"Italy were better than us for the whole first period when they put us in uncomfortable situations several times.

"We couldn't control the game properly and we looked very open. But, bit by bit, we got a second wind, improved after the interval and ended up being the better side come extra time.

"Then fortune went our way in the shootout, which put us through to a great final. We're enormously excited about taking on Brazil in the Maracana."

"Despite all the things they've won - our players feel like kids! They're playing Brazil at the Maracana and that's taken them back to boyhood days."

Read: Can anyone stop Spain at 2014 World Cup?

The host nation ensured they will be playing in the iconic Rio de Janeiro stadium, which is set to host the 2014 World Cup final, when beating fellow South Americans Uruguay 2-1 in a tight contest on Wednesday.

Italy will feel they deserved more from the game than the chance to win third place when facing the Uruguayans in Salvador on Sunday, even if goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon did turn a Xavi effort against the post in the dying moments.

"The lads played a great match, from the first minute to the last, and we created plenty of situations that could have won us the game, but once it goes to penalties anything can happen," said Cesare Prandelli, whose tactics successfully stifled the Spanish.

"Spain are currently ahead of us because they've been following the same ideology for years, whereas we're still forging our own path.

"This match has been a great test for us, no doubt about that, and we passed it despite the result. We were convinced about how we needed to play, in both technical and tactical terms, and we proved that we have the quality to battle it out with the best."

Read: Spain win 2012 European Championship

Prandelli can reflect on a far superior display to the two teams' meeting in the European Championship final in Kiev one year ago, when Spain romped to a 4-0 victory as they lifted the continental title for the third time following previous triumphs in 1964 and 2008.

When the sides had met in the group stages in Gdansk last year, the 1-1 draw was built upon Italy's decision to play a three-man defense -- and Prandelli's decision to revert to that system once again restricted Spanish creativity for large parts of the game.

Brazil coach Felipe Scolari will have followed the tactical ploy with interest as his side bid to win the Confederations Cup for the third time in a row following successes in 2005 and 2009.

Read: Brazil president proposes referendum for reforms

As has become a feature of the Confederations Cup, the build-up to the match witnessed clashes between police and anti-government protesters.

Brazil has been hit by wave of mass demonstrations as its citizens clamor for better public services in a land where $15 billion has been set aside to host the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup.

Over a million people took to the streets in the early days of the tournament but there were just an estimated 5,000 protesting in Fortaleza on Thursday, with police saying they arrested 72 people.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT