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
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 provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT