Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas (2nd L) celebrates with teammates their quarterfinal penalty shootout victory over Italy at the Euro 2008 Championships in Vienna, Austria, on June 22, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
Spain beat world champion Italy 4-2 in penalty shootout to win the "ugly game" in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008 on Sunday.
The game was forced to extra time after the score was deadlocked at 0-0 after 90 minutes and after another 30 minutes of play, the score remained untouched.
Spain converted four of five attempts while Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas made two saves to send his team to the semifinals.
The victory was well deserved for the Spanish team as they gained an upper hand over Italy in the 120 minutes of action.
The Spanish team had 26 shots to Italy's 12 and were superior in ball possession (57%-43%) in the match which was played in a sluggish way.
Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas (Bottom) celebrates with a teammate after their quarterfinal penalty shootout victory over Italy at the Euro 2008 Championships in Vienna, Austria, on June 22, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
"I would like to congratulate first of all my players for their remarkable behavior and maintaining their morale during the match," said the 69-year-old Spanish coach Luis Aragones.
"It was very difficult because the Italians closed down all the spaces, which made it difficult to play our natural game."
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas was over the moon with the success and admitted the players owed it to themselves.
"This is wonderful, it is impossible to find the words to express such an emotion," said Fabregas.
"We are just simply delighted. This is an important victory for this young side. We have been waiting for this for a long time."
The Spanish team just couldn't break the Italian defence line led by veteran defender Christian Panucci and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon also put up several superb saves.
Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas (L) celebrates after their quarterfinal penalty shootout victory over Italy at the Euro 2008 Championships in Vienna, Austria, on June 22, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
The world champion played the match without suspended midfielder Anrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso and that cost them dearly.
Italy also had their chance of scoring though but Daniele De Rossi's shot after a melee in Spanish area was blocked by Casillas at the 61st minute.
In the penalty shootout, Casillas denied the attempts from De Rossi and Antonio di Natale. Buffon also punched out the shot from Daniel Guiza.
It was the second quarterfinal match which was decided by penalty shootout at Euro 2008 and the only last eight game won by group leaders.
Earlier in the quarterfinals, Germany beat Portugal 3-2, Turkey beat Croatia 4-2 (after penalty shootout) and Russia beat the Netherlands 3-1.
The Euro 2008 will resume on Wednesday with Germany playing Turkey in the semifinals. The other semifinal match will be played between Russia and Spain on Thursday.
It will be the second encounter between Spain and Russia at Euro 2008. In the first round of Group D competitions, Spain scored an overwhelming 4-1 victory over their young opponents.
(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)