Euro 2012: Spain tops Portugal after Ronaldo-less PK round to return to final

SpainPK (Getty Images)

Spain’s reign as European champion is still alive, and Cristiano Ronaldo only sat and watched as Portugal’s tournament run came to an end.

After a scoreless 120 minutes, Spain outlasted Portugal on penalty kicks 4-2 at Donbass Stadium in Donetsk, Ukraine, with Ronaldo never getting the chance to take a penalty for Portugal.

Both goalkeepers — Portugal’s Rui Patricio and Spain’s Iker Casillas — came up with saves on the opening kicks of the shootout, robbing Xabi Alonso and Joao Moutinho, respectively. Andres Iniesta, Pepe, Gerard Pique and Nani traded makes before Sergio Ramos chipped down the center to give Spain a 3-2 edge. With Portugal needing a conversion to tie it up, Bruno Alves stepped forward, with Ronaldo presumably being saved for Portugal’s fifth kick. The centerback promptly blasted his chance off the crossbar, leaving Cesc Fabregas with a chance to win it.

The Barcelona attacker tucked his shot off the left post and in to leave Ronaldo standing helpless at midfield while sending Spain back to the final, where it will defend its title against either Germany or Italy.

The drama of the penalties overshadowed an otherwise evenly played game that lacked quality chances on both ends.

Both sides had threatening spells of possession throughout the first half, but that did not translate into opportunities on goal. Spain’s best opportunity of the opening half came in the ninth minute, when Iniesta squirted free inside the box and tried to cross. Bruno Alves failed to clear and the ball fell to a wide-open Alvaro Arbeloa, but his shot from 18 yards out was over the bar.

Portugal’s pressure disrupted Spain’s normal dominance of possession and reliance on short passing. Their inability to keep possession was almost costly as Moutinho won possession back deep in Spain’s half in the 31st minute. Ronaldo received a pass and sent a low shot skimming just wide of the post.

The second half saw Portugal with more of the chances but never really forced Iker Casillas into much action. Hugo Almeida wasted a 3-on-3 Portugal break by firing a long-distance shot well over the bar. Ronaldo was unable to connect a couple of free kicks before misfiring on Portugal’s best opportunity of the game. As the game approached extra time, Raul Meireles led a counterattack down the center, but his pass to find Ronaldo on his left was a bit behind the Real Madrid star, and his shot from 15 yards out went well over the bar.


What did you think of the match? Stunned that Ronaldo did not take a penalty for Portugal? Think Spain will repeat, or do you think it’s Germany or Italy’s year?

Share your thoughts below.

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77 Responses to Euro 2012: Spain tops Portugal after Ronaldo-less PK round to return to final

  1. not convincing says:

    wasted sooooo much time watching this

  2. Gnarls says:

    I’m not sure the best team one today, but congrats to Spain. Why Ronaldo didn’t take a PK, I don’t understand. Nani calling Bruno off his PK pretty much foreshadowed the loss.

  3. Mike says:

    In what way in any world was Portugal better than Spain?

  4. Eric says:

    As a Portugal fan I thought we played Spain as well as any team in the tournament so far. The chances just weren’t there. Now here is my two cents on Penalty Kicks. I think that it isn’t a very good way to decide a game. I think the game should go on a continuous 15 minute periods after the the first two halves of extra time. I think the Spanish would have won either way but I just don’t believe that penalty kicks should be the way we decide games any longer.

  5. Mike says:

    Not only did Ronaldo not take a penalty, he also had ZERO shots on goal for the entire 120 minutes despite taking every free kick within 40 yards of the goal.

    This guy is a choke job of epic proportions. He has two good games against Denmark and Croatia and people proclaim he’s answered the critics. And then he goes 120 minutes in Portgual’s biggest match in years without a shot on goal and does not take a penalty in the shootout.

    I don’t want to hear another word about this

  6. Eric says:

    But he played so well in that game against Croatia.

  7. Nate Dollars says:

    what are you talking about, eric? it was like he wasn’t on the field against croatia. :)

  8. Eric says:

    Ok ok you’re right. He was almost invisible against Croatia.

  9. BoBo says:

    The best team 1 or won??

  10. David says:

    Who cares what you want to hear.

  11. Mike says:

    Edit: Netherlands not Denmark. And it wasn’t because of him.

  12. Mike says:

    Clearly you. You responded.

  13. Dimidri says:

    That goal against Valdes sure was a choke job…Dude gets held by a team that has let in ONE goal in 5 games+30 minutes, breaking an all time record, playing with a team that’s fine but worse, and he’s a ‘choke job’? Troll. Not even a fan of his, but please, try at least acting like you know what you’re talking about.

  14. Mike says:

    Wait a second… Victor Valdes is playing in Euro 2012?

    Yeah, the best player in the entire tournament not getting a single shot on target in 120 minutes despite having a plethora of chances IS choking.



    This Euro 2012 has been a wast of time watching. The world cup is better.Argentina,Brazil,Uraguay,Mexico,Japan,USA,Australia,Ivory Coast and Ghana would beat some of these teams I saw in this tournament.

  16. Eric says:

    To be fair you didn’t exactly sound very knowledgeable. The games you picked out were A.Croatia- team that Portugal didn’t even play and B. Denmark-game that Ronaldo had arguably his worst performance. Couple that with the fact that you sounded arrogant when you said “you didnt want to even hear another word about it” and you have a few reason why a person might get agitated with you.

  17. Wm. says:

    Are you serious? How many on-field heart attacks do you think there would be? Going 90 is tough——going 120 is a grinding, grueling task. I cannot imagine what would happen if players were required to go on after 120 minute mark…

  18. Eric says:

    Exactly. Would be over fairly quickly. I left out my second part of the proposal where after the two periods of extra time each team would be allowed 1 additional sub.

  19. KC says:

    “Dude gets held by a team that has let in ONE goal in 5 games+30 minutes, breaking an all time record”
    That’s exactly why Cristiano is a choker. Great players are supposed to score against anybody, not just easy teams. Cristiano has proven time and again that he cannot be trusted to come up big in critical times.

  20. Mike says:

    I am drunk, cut me some slack lol.

  21. Gnarls says:

    Cut me sum slack. I mean give me a brake. I stair at numbers from son up to son down.

  22. Eric says:

    If you’re drunk then why are you correcting other people. Double edged sword my friend.

  23. soccerhorn says:

    They keep playing in ice hockey.

  24. Gnarls says:

    I didn’t say Portugal was better. I was expecting an unequivocal win from Spain and lots of possession. I saw neither.

  25. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    how insightful. Similar to me saying that Buckingham Palace is an awful place for a state Figurehead to live because Versailles is sssooooooo much more incredible.

    Any tournament, WC or Euros, has it’s top teams, its mid teirs (USA maybe?), and it’s bottom feeders (Honduras, New Zealand anyone?)

  26. NateinSF says:

    I never like seeing a match decided on PKs, ever.

  27. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    but I see no real alternative unless it is some form of a penalty or one vs. one situation. Requiring the players to simply continue playing indefinitely is just not possible

  28. Eric says:

    The better team won. Why does there have to be a choker. I mean my god can we give the Spanish some credit. They played there style. Which is essentially to dominate their opponents with their ability to possess and pass the ball. The Portuguese did what any team should try to emulate. Hell I think the Germans are the best team to go up against Spain because they can actually finish on the counter. Only Ronaldo and God know why he decided to blast that ball over the net when the Portuguese were on that counter lead by Miereles. But to say that Ronaldo choked is only to diminish the brillance of the Spanish midfield and defense.

  29. T says:

    After years of underachieving Spain is finally fulfilling their potential. Success doesn’t last forever, but their making the most out of these group of talented players.

  30. NateinSF says:

    ohh i agree, i just hate seeing it end that way. in this situation the better team won, but that isnt always the case.

  31. B 16 says:

    Gola de Oro!!!

  32. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    with line changes every four minutes. The two sports are completely incomparable

  33. Kenny_B says:

    Portugal created the better scoring opportunities.

    The game wasn’t at all one sided as your question seems to imply.

  34. Mike says:

    evenly played i think. portugal played a pressure game i don’t see often against spain. in fact, i’ve never seen it. and it worked. congrats to spain. hats off to portugal.

  35. RB says:

    Agreed on all points.

  36. Dominghosa says:

    I hope this was a joke. They do not keep playing in the NHL. They go to a shootout as well after the allotted overtime periods are expired with no goals scored. They do, however, have golden goals.
    And agree with timmy, line changes make the two sports incomparable when debating stamina or endurance.

  37. Rlw2020 says:

    Seriously, glad i didnt take time work for this one. Game was exactly what i expected: a lot of good passing, cheap fouls and no goals or even quality shots on goal..

  38. Sticky says:

    Just saw the 2nd half. I hope Ronaldo cried after they lost. He’s got to have a lot of tears in him. Well, they can listen to some fado on the way home to choke out some more tears.

  39. nick says:

    Not in playoff games.. they keep going until someone scores. And shifts are roughly 45 seconds for forwards.. 4 minutes would be insane!

  40. Shane says:

    Spain is boring to watch. I hope Germany pounds them.

  41. David says:

    But I still don’t get how Spain not playing up to their standards implies that Portugal should have won. Arguably the closest either came to scoring was Iniesta’s shot in front of the net.

  42. hush says:

    Viva todo Castellano! We got this maaaaen!

    This Spanish team will go down in history as the greatest team ever. knocking out the Brazil team of the 1970’s. In my families opinion, this Espana team is the greatest ever. I completely agree.

    I prefer the Italians over the Germans cause of what the Italians represents as a whole.

    Espana 2 Italia 0!

  43. Roger says:


  44. slyboy says:

    dude, shut up you sound like a broken record, plenty of players “didnt show up”…have you noticed the stat that said the game ended 0-0 and you kept bringing up Messi, he shows up about as much as Ronaldo when playing for Argentina. not debating who is better, but neither show their best form with the national team

  45. Gman says:

    Boring game. I hope Spain gets pounded by Italy or Germany.

  46. HoboMike says:

    Match fixing and play-acting?

  47. HoboMike says:

    If the Germans get by Italy, I think they get revenge from 2008 and 2010. 2-0.

  48. Wm. says:

    I like this Euro tournament. The cream of the crop and a few other dark horse teams. The World Cup was once like this.

  49. Wm. says:

    Germany still have to get through Italy——not a foregone conclusion!

  50. Wm. says:

    »Italians over the Germans cause of what the Italians represents as a whole«

    And what, pray tell, would that be?

  51. Wm. says:

    The Germans do not fare well against the Italians in tournament play. Even a seemingly average Italian team is tricky. You would think that a young and well-balanced fluid German side would dominate, but I wouldn’t put real money down on this one…

  52. Rich says:

    Actually lines change every 30-40 seconds.

  53. Rich says:

    In the hockey playoffs they do not have shootouts. They sometimes go 3-4 OTs. Eventually someone is so tired they mess up. Some people feel this is better that PKs.

  54. pd says:

    So what was up with Nani taking the kick that Alves was walking up to take? Once a player starts walking toward the ball… man, even if that’s not the order, you let it go… That just wasn’t cool.

    I get Ronaldo wanting to take the last kick, but seriously that who Nani switcher thing clearly unnerved Alves… As captain Ronaldo should have had the presence of mind to go 4th and let Alves settle himself down…

    That was some nutty stuff, especially after 120 minutes of discipline that lack of organization and team thinking was so weird to see…

  55. pd says:

    Spaghetti. Hush hates spaghetti.

  56. SilverRey says:

    I think it was a call from the sideline – though horribly ill timed. Why would you want to ice your own guy? It seems they didn’t have a plan in place for pk’s.

  57. Neruda says:

    I agree Bruno Alves was iced… by his own team??!!! When it was finally his turn everyone knew he was going to shank it or have a squeaker blocked. He almost slotted the shot though by trying to impossibly place it in the upper upper upper 90.

    It is lame that the final result hinges on a seemingly small mistake but oh well, that’s how the game is played in 2012.

  58. Neruda says:

    Cristiano played with heart but he skied everything when he had a look at goal and there were a two or three solid counters. He’s a striker and his job is to put shots on frame and net as many as those shots as possible.

    Watching on ESPN Deportes the announcers made a good point that a few counters needlessly went through Cristiano when other players were in better position to get a shot off or be playmakers. The Portuguese players were told to give it to Ronaldo or were too afraid to take it themselves.

  59. Camjam says:

    Thank you for writing this. I thought it was even…. probably Portugal with the better game and opportunities through the first 90′

  60. Dominghosa says:

    As it turns out, I am the joker. Thanks for the knowledge Rich and Nick. I’ll stop pretending I’m a hockey expert.

  61. David says:

    Blah blah blah. No one had won a World Cup after losing their first game until Spain did and everyone wouldn’t shut up about that either. They are different teams than all of those historical teams you reference (minus a few players). Germany will be fine.

  62. biff says:

    hey, Mike (hope you are sober by now :-). Ronaldo’s supporting cast yesterday against the EM 2012’s best defense was not very helpful. The crosses to Ronaldo into the box stank and there a couple times Ronaldo was open and Almeida, who not very good, shot way off target instead of passing to Ronaldo. Granted, Ronaldo had a three decent free-kick chances (his best shot bloked with Arebola’s hand ball) and he blew the big chance for immortality in the 88th minute. But that also was not a good pass, he had to break his stride and slow up and then get the shot off in about a quarter of a second before the great Spanish defense would be there to block his view of the goal. Was a goal shot possible? Yes. Extremely difficult? Yes.

    And, as noted, Spain has given up one goal (in the first game) this whole tournament. Spain defense is the best in the world. It is really not accurate to say that Ronaldo choked when going up against the defense with a so (offensive) supporting cast behind him (Portugal defense also is good). Plus, I think there were at least three strategic fouls on Ronaldo as he was headed with the ball toward the goal by his Madrid teammates who know how dangerous he is.

  63. biff says:

    Hey, HoboMike, you are just saying that because you have a an anti-Spain bias.

  64. biff says:

    This game convinces me that Xavi and Fabregas should not start in the final. Xavi was invisible during his whole time in the game and Fabregas did not really impress until his penalty kick, which actually he almost blew.

    I would like to see Del Bosque start Torres on top in the final (or, if not, then Llorente), with Pedro on left wing and Navas on right wing. After Pedro and Navas entered the game yesterday, Spain perked up and started actually having scoring opportunities, but they did not have a striker, like Torres, to pass to. And then Iniesta starting in the final as central attacking midfielder backed up by d-mids Alonso (i.e. if his back was not broken by Pepe) and Mister Actor (but very good d-mid) Busquets. And then Del Bosque has Xavi, Fabregas and Silva as potential subs. I really think that starting line-up would give Germany or Italy trouble.

  65. Ceres says:

    After a rather boring first 90 minutes, Spain were able to step up the pressure and even though they did not manage to score, I was sure Portugal would not be able to beat Spain on penalty kicks, because Portugal has never really been very efficient and their players often seem a bit too emotional (just look at Ronaldo) when it really matter.

    For exactly that reason, Ronaldo has never played a good game against Denmark, because the Danish players know exactly which “button” they need to push, to get him emotionally out of balance.

    After Denmark had lost to Germany in the group of death, the Danish players very much seemed to agree that Germany was by far the strongest team in this group. Germany are cool minded when it really matter and is at least a level better than Portugal, so I’m sure they are going to beat Italy and then a Spanish team that has not really impressed.

  66. Jonathan Wallace says:

    Nope. Del Bosque realizes that you save what speed you have until later in the game when the other team has tired legs to maximize the impact.

  67. Chupacabra says:

    Match fixing and corruption.

  68. Eurosnob says:

    Well, this is highly debatable. In the last WC, 3 out 4 semifinalists were from Europe. In that tournament, Argentina lost to Germany 0-4, Brazil and Uruguay were eliminated by the Netherlands, the team that went 0-3 in this Euro. The remaining team you’ve mentioned are the second tier teams.

  69. Eurosnob says:

    I agree with you on Nani. But how can you blame Ronaldo for not jumping the order, if you just blamed Nani for taking Alves’ turn? If Alves was unnerved by Nani jumping ahead of him, why would Ronaldo doing the same thing to Alves would calm him down rather than make it worse? If Ronaldo jumped his turn and then Alves missed his penalty, everybody would be blaming Ronaldo for unnerving his teammate.

  70. HoboMike says:

    I don’t. I think Germany is the better team. You can’t argue that they’ve played better soccer over the course of the tournament. They’re deeper and they can change their tactics to suit the opponent. Spain can’t do that, although they usually don’t have to.

  71. HoboMike says:

    Maybe it’s me being naive, but I thought you had to submit a list of penalty-takers prior to the shootout beginning and that you couldn’t change it?

    I thought Alves just went up when he thought he was supposed to. Either way, after he was recalled, there was absolutely no chance he was making his.


    The world cup is way better, I’m sorrry the Euros don’t compare.

  73. James says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned in this thread, but does anyone find it curious that all of a sudden Spain looked like a different team in the extra time. I’m a huge fan of the Spanish game and they looked somewhat lost due to the Portuguese pressure in normal time. Yet in the extra time, they looked more motivated to score and pressed it up. I don’t understand the strategy if this was done intentionally.

  74. Eurosnob says:

    Well, if there is a fixed order, then the entire blame is on Alves, who messed up from the start, and Nani should be applauded for restoring the order.

  75. biff says:

    Well, on the one hand, yes, Germany is undefeated. On the other, they have shown weaknesses, barely beating Portugal, allowing Holland to score in the second half and looking shaky while holding out for the win, ditto with Denmark, the exact same scenario. And while German walloped Greece, the Greeks were able to score two goals, one on a magnificent counterattack that totally shocked Neuer and had him yanking on Samaras leg to hold him back.

    Neuer holding Samaras’s Leg
    link to

    If Greece can do that to Germany, that tells me they are vulnerable defensively and Italy and Spain are much more dangerous offensively than Greece and Italy and Spain are strong defensively, each potentially able to keep a clean sheet or hold Germany to one goal.

    All that said, Germany is no doubt a great team and appears headed for the championship. But we’ll see…

  76. biff says:

    I hear what you are sayin, Jonny, but against an aweseom team like Germany Spain needs to come out smokin’ and keep great steady players like Fabregas, Xavi and Silva for later. It’s worked so far with Fabregas and I think it would work even better with Xavi and Silva.