European Championships in Austria and Switzerland in 2008. It’s the Quarter-Final stage at the Ernst-Happel Stadion in Vienna, in front of 48,000 spectators.
Spain had won Group D, winning all three matches against Russia, Sweden and Greece. They were playing an exciting brand of football, but there was always something about Spain at major tournaments. They had been in good form before, and yet fell at the hurdles before they even had a chance to reach the Final. They lost in the Final in 1984 and won the first European Championships back in 1960, but that was it in terms of major Finals and so there was a touch of trepidation over their expectations for this one.
Italy had been up against another team who won all their matches in Group C, Netherlands. Italy were humbled in their first match, against the Dutch but bounced back and a draw against Romania and then victory over the French was enough to get them to the knock-out stage.
Spain were the much more inventive of the two sides, passing the ball around at will all of it one-touch stuff. Xavi ran everything in midfield. Villa brought out a save from Buffon, and Silva went close just before half-time. In the second half, Senna tested Buffon who managed to smother a shot which bounced off the post. Italy were missing Pirlo and Gattuso who were both suspended. The game went to extra time and then the dreaded shootout. Italy’s record is not good in shootouts and so Spain were confident.
David Villa was first up and he scored : Spain 1/1, Italy 0/0
Fabio Grosso too Italy’s first kick and he scored too : Spain 1/1, Italy 1/1
Santi Carzorla then stepped up for Spain and sent Buffon the wrong way : Spain 2/2, Italy 1/1
Daniele De Rossi the put his kick the same side Grosso had, but Casillas saved it : Spain 2/2, Italy 1/2
Marco Senna was next up for Spain to put them further in front and he didn’t miss : Spain 3/3, Italy 1/2
Mauro Camoranesi needed to score for Italy, and he did : Spain 3/3, Italy 2/3
Daniel Guiza was next for Spain, but his kick to Buffon’s left was saved : Spain 3/4, Italy 2/3
Antonio Di Natale could level things back up for Italy. He went the same side Guiza did, but so did Casillas who saved it : Spain 3/4, Italy 2/4.
It was now left to Cesc Fabregas to take the kick that could put Spain through. He sent Buffon the wrong way and Spain had won the shootout and were through to the Semi-Finals
Spain went onto win the tournament, beating Germany in the Final to finally win a major multi-team tournament.
SPAIN: Casillas; Ramos, Marchena, Puyol, Capdevilla; Iniesta (Cazorla), Xavi (Fabregas), Senna, Silva; Villa, Torres (Guiza)
ITALY: Buffon; Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso; Aquliani (Del Piero), De Rossi, Perrotta (Camoranesi), Ambrosini; Toni, Cassano (Di Natale)
Spain won 4-2 on penalties