Not a worthy game

Morris Dalla Costa, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:21 PM ET

Vienna—It was a game not worthy of such a great tournament.

In the end, Spain moved on to the 2008 Euro semifinals against Russia, defeating Italy 4-2 on penalties.

On a hot, steamy night, after 120 minutes of soccer, the teams had played to a 0-0. It was arguably the worse game of this tournament, lacking any kind of quality play for long periods of time.

If there was a team who created the best chances it was Spain but even they couldn’t generate the kind of offence they have in previous games.

When it came to penalties, Italy missed two with Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale. Both were saved by Iker Casillas.

Cesc Fabregas put away the winner, ending the World Cup champions run for a tournament double.

As usual, penalties always create a stomach-dropping ending. It was the only riveting part of the game.

It was a first half that could have set soccer back 20 years. These were supposedly two quality teams ready to play a match of soccer.

Instead of playing because they wanted to win, they played as if they were afraid to lose. If there were brief moments of skill, they belonged to Spain. But they too were few and far between.

Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon was tested twice from long range. His most difficult save was a long-distance attempt by David Villa.

Italy had little idea how to create chances. Their style of play consisted of two passes and a high-ball to Luca Toni.

The Italians played the game without midfielders Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo. Even though Pirlo has been only average in this tournament, his absence was obvious. No one in the Italian midfield seem capable of taking charge.

The second half wasn't much better although there were a few more changes.

Italy's best chance came from substitute Mauro Camoranesi when Toni created confusion in Spain's penalty area. The ball fell to Camoranesi but his shot from close was saved by Iker Casillas leg.

Spain went close several times but their best came on a long, hard shot from Marcos Senna. Senna fired from 30 yards. Buffon got his body in front of it but it squired past him and slowly rolled, hitting the post.

Both the Italians and Spanish spent a great deal of time trying to draw penalties. They would simulate fouls hoping something would come of it. Several times German referee Herbert Fandel would chastise the players, telling them to get up.

He finally had enough and booked Villa.

It reached farcical proportions in extra time when Di Natale went down along the sidelines and was rolling off the field. He noticed and rolled back on earning whistles from there on in everytime he touched the ball.

Someone it was fitting that he missed the key penalty shot that would have tied the game.


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