Spain's top five moments at Euro 2012

Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas, right, celebrates with Cesc Fabregas after winning their Euro...

Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas, right, celebrates with Cesc Fabregas after winning their Euro 2012 semi-final soccer match against Portugal at Donbass Arena in Donetsk June 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:51 PM ET

KIEV, UKRAINE - 1. FABREGAS IS "FAB", Part 1

In blasting a penalty off the post and into the Portuguese net to elevate the Spaniards into the final of Euro 2012, Cesc Fabregas also kept Cristiano Ronaldo from taking part in the shootout.

Talk about putting an exclamation point on a victory.

Fabregas didn't even start the semifinal on June 27, much to the surprise of everyone in the Donbass Arena not named Vicente Del Bosque. But his impact as a substitute was immediate, helping to whittle away at a stellar Portuguese defence that started to erode in extra time.

In the end, he would use his boot to shove the final dagger into the Portuguese, finishing off the 0-0 (4-2 in penalties) decision in favour of the Spanish. All the while, Ronaldo, scheduled to be Portugal's fifth shooter, helplessly looked on, knowing Fabregas had stripped him of any opportunity to step to the spot.

2. ALONSO GETS AN "A"

When you play in a midfield that includes stars such as Andres Iniesta, the man who scored the winner in the final of the 2010 World Cup, and Xavi Hernandez, considered by many to be the slickest in the sport at his position, it's easy to get overlooked.

But there was no overlooking Xabi Alonso in the quarterfinal victory over France, a game in which he scored both goals in the 2-0 triumph that punched Spain's ticket to a semifinal berth versus Portugal.

Alonso's first goal came off a perfect header from a perfect cross. The second came off a penalty kick. Such was this memorable day for Alonso who, for once, didn't have to take a back seat to Xavi or Iniesta on this, one of the grandest stages in the sport.

3. SAINT IKER'S HOLY SAVE

He might not have a lot of work to do with such a talented team in front of him. But every now and then, a moment arises where you understand why Spanish goalie Iker Casillas is known as "Saint Iker."

This was one of them.

Had the Spanish lost to Croatia on the final day of play in Group C, they would have been eliminated. And, with the score knotted at 0-0, they almost conceded the goal that would have done them in.

Except Casillas wouldn't let them.

As QMI correspondent James Lawton so eloquently described in Friday's Toronto Sun: "(A Spanish loss) was a growing possibility when Luka Modric floated an exquisite deep cross to the head of his unmarked teammate Ivan Rakitic just six yards out. Casillas dived to his right and pushed the ball away."

And along with the ball, the fears of an entire nation.

The defending champs would seal the deal with a late goal. But not before Saint Iker saved the day.

4. FABREGAS IS "FAB:" Part 2

Having come into the tournament on a 14-game winning streak, the Spanish were on their heels at times in their opener against an Italian side that showed no fear of the defending World Cup and Euro champs.

In fact, when the opening goal was scored by Italy substitute Antonio Di Natale in the 60th minute, the champs were on the ropes.

But Fabregas wouldn't let that happen, punching back with a goal of his own less than 10 minutes later to knot the game at 1-1.

Had the Italians won that game, who knows if the Spanish would have even gotten out of the group stage? In the end, it's a moot point, isn't it?

5. VIVA INIESTA

There are a number of moments that could be picked here. Fernando Torres' brilliant rocket goal against Ireland. The smothering defence played by Sergio Ramos against Ronaldo and Portugal.

Instead, we are going with any moment that Iniesta has touched the ball.

While Xavi has wobbled at times, Iniesta has been Spain's best player, whether it be coming up to create offence, delivering seeing-eye passes through a sea of legs, or just frustrating opposing strikers and midfielders with his air-tight defence.

So, pick an Iniesta moment. Any Iniesta moment. We're sure you won't be disappointed.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/Zeisberger


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