Cristiano Ronaldo has been trying to conquer Spain for years. Until recently, he has been thwarted in this endeavor by some of the same players that will oppose Portugal in the semifinal at Euro 2012. But fresh off winning his first La Liga crown since joining Real Madrid, the Portuguese forward aims to add another epic result to his sterling resume.
Of course, the mesmeric passing of Spain means that Ronaldo may see precious few chances to make an impression at Donbass Arena in Ukraine. Winners at both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008, Spain enter the match as the prohibitive favorites and the purveyors of the most beautiful -- and emulated -- style in the world. The team that emerges victorious on Wednesday will await the winner of the other semifinal match between Italy and Germany.
To bring a bit more of an Iberian influence and expert analysis to this latest Euro 2012 live blog, HuffPost Sports will be viewing the game alongside noted soccer writer Jimmy Burns at the Centro Espanol in New York City. The author of La Roja: How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World (Nation Books), Burns will be chiming in with insights throughout the match.
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|@ AnfieldCat : Bruno Alves an inch from glory, Fabregas an inch from disaster. The smallest of margins that separate winning & losing! #Euro2012|
Germany and Italy meet on Thursday in the other semifinal. Both likely fancy themselves a sterner test for Spain than Portugal. For Portugal, this must feel like an opportunity lost. They took the action to Spain, defending high up the field and grabbing an impressive amount of possession (near 45% for much of the match).
|@ JacobHester22 : You can't justify Cristiano Ronaldo not taking one of the penalty kicks in the Semi Finals of the Euro's. He's your BEST player!!|
|@ SInow : Cristiano Ronaldo shockingly doesn't even have the chance to step up and take a penalty kick. #euro2012|
|@ JOE_Toombs : Well Cristiano Ronaldo can only blame himself. He should have taken a penalty before any other Portuguese player did!! #Euro2012|
Ronaldo never had to (or got to) factor in to the penalty shootout.
Cesc's shot banged off the left post and bounced into the net. He runs to his teammates as ESPANA is chanted here at Centro Espanol.
He can book a place in the final and HE DOES!
And his missile comes off the bar! Jimmy Burns is dancing with the fans at Centro Espanol.
Groans then applause from Spanish fans here. He scores with a chip after Patricio dives.
Nani comes trotting down and goes high into the net after a stutter step.
No doubt to left corner.
And Portugal score.
Epic leaping save to his right and then Iniesta comes through. Spain lead, 1-0.
Spain kicks first. And he is denied! Patricio puts it off the post. Brilliant!
Ronaldo with words of advice for Patricio.
One is the best in the world but the other has been tested tonight.
|@ SoccerInsider : 52 fouls, 9 cautions, 7 shots on target, 0 goals. PKs await. #euro2012|
We're heading to penalties with a spot in the final on the line.
The latest attack founders as Spain look to pass the ball into the net. That said, they are relentless now.
"I think this is the best 15 minutes that Spain has played in the tournament," according to resident expert Jimmy Burns.
Spain threatening with some nice interplay on the left but Fabregas is offside.
Penalities! shouts an overexcited Spaniard. "no, no, 120 minutes not 115" corrects his friend.
A cross into a crowd in front of Portuguese net goes untouched. Torres sitting tall on the sideline.
But it's undone despite seeming to have the space and the time. Would Torres have finished what Pedro lost in the crowd?
With Meireles coming off, slowly, it looks like Portugal has itself set on on penalties.
"Portugal are settling for the shootout, while spain are pushing for the goal."
Spain goes close again as Navas fires low on target but Patricio saves. The deflection comes out to Pepe. It hits his foot but jumps on it. That was not a pass back to the keeper but certainly it could be viewed that way through roja-tinted glasses.
Ronaldo loses a 1-1 collision with Ramos and Spain pushes ahead. But the Madrid man stays down, writhing around. Spain put the ball out. Attack halted. Unkind things are said by many in red about Ronaldo's ethics, manhood, etc.
"This game, we're going to win" they're chanting at the Centro Espanol.