Cesc Fabregas said he had a premonition he would score the winning penalty for Spain after doing exactly that in a 4-2 shootout victory over Portugal in their tense, scoreless Euro 2012 semifinal Wednesday in Donetsk.
I had intuition and wanted the fifth penalty
- Cesc Fabregas
The Barcelona midfielder squeezed home his effort from the spot via the inside of the post to give Vicente del Bosque's men the opportunity to defend the European Championship crown they claimed four years ago.
It was a repeat for Fabregas after he did the same at Euro 2008 when Spain beat Italy in the quarterfinals.
Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves missed their efforts for Portugal as captain Cristiano Ronaldo inexplicably was not among the first four takers.
"I had intuition and wanted the fifth penalty," Fabregas said. "I told [Spanish assistant] Toni Grande I thought I could repeat that great moment [from the Italian match]. They told me initially to take the second one but I said no give me the fifth as I had this premonition."
Ronaldo, meanwhile, said he accepted his role as the fifth penalty taker, despite the danger of him not being called upon that was later realized with his teammates' misses.
"It was just a question of me speaking with the coach," Ronaldo told reporters. "He said to me, 'Do you want to take the fifth one?' and I said 'yes.' Sometimes I take the first, the second or the third. I agreed to take the fifth."
Portugal was the better side in the first half without truly threatening Iker Casillas' goal, but Spain stepped up a gear after the break and also was clearly the stronger throughout the additional 30 minutes of extra time.
Spain will meet the winner of Thursday's semifinal between Germany and Italy in Sunday's final in Kiev.
Ronaldo said he hoped for a Spanish victory given his Real Madrid connections.
"I hope Spain win the tournament now because I have a lot friends there and I play there and it will be a tough final for them," he said.
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