Football News

Spain reach semi finals

Spain reach semi finals

Spain ended their long agonising jinx of "June 22nd" after defeating Italy in the quarter finals of Euro 2008 on penalties. Cesc Fabregas smashed home the winner to set the Spaniards up for a cracking semi-final tie against Russia.

It is the first time Spain have reached the last four since they got to the European Championship final in 1984.

The victory was also their first over Italy at a major tournament outside the Olympic Games.

"Penalties are always a lottery and it was about time we won one, we deserve it," said Casillas. "It was important because our team haven't made it beyond the quarters for so long."

"It was an extremely hard game and we suffered a lot but losing on penalties again would have been terrible. Now the fans can enjoy this because we've got to the semi-finals at last."

The game had ended goalless after extra time following 120 minutes in which both defences were too well-organised to break down despite the determined efforts of both strike forces.

"It was a very evenly balanced game," said Spain coach Luis Aragones. "Italy are always a difficult side to break down and very dangerous on the break."

Roberto Donadoni, the coach of world champions Italy, added: "I think the players should leave here with their heads held high. They gave everything they had. we've simply got to live with this. Tomorrow is the start of a new era.

Spain are the only one of the Euro 2008 group winners to make it to the semi-finals after Portugal, Croatia and Netherlands were knocked out of the tournament.