|Spain laboured hard to break through a stubborn Italian defence on Sunday night at Euro 2008 but eventually won through on penalties to complete the semi-final line-up and rewrite the record books in the process.|
Before Sunday, Spain had lost three quarterfinal penalty shoot-outs on June 22 including at the World Cups of 1986 and 2002 along with Euro 2004 in Portugal. After 120 minutes of open play between two of the powers of European soccer had produced no goals, it looked like the Iberians might once again fall to football’s cruelest of tiebreakers.
However, Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved efforts from Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale before Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas stepped up to stroke home the penalty which sent Spain through to a semi-final match-up with Russia on Thursday.
Spain beat Russia by three goals in their group game on June 10 but the subsequent return of talismanic figure Andrei Arshavin from suspension saw Guus Hiddink’s side sink Sweden to claim a quarterfinal spot where they defeated tournament favourites Netherlands after extra time.
Spain are listed at odds of 6/5 by OddsChecker.com to prevail against the Russians while those betting on Russia making it through to the final this Sunday can only do as good as 3/1. However, should the semi-final follow two of the quarterfinals and finish tied after 90 minutes, PinnacleSports.com is offering odds of 61/17.
On Wednesday, Germany will battle it out in Basel with Turkey in the other semi-final match with OddsChecker.com listing Deutschland as the 4/9 favourite. Turkey, who needed extra time to get past Croatia on Friday, are listed at odds of 39/5 to win but are a better bet at 5/2 to draw.
With the ellimination of Holland, Germany has become the bookmakers favourite to win Euro 2008 at odds of 13/8 with OddsChecker.com followed by Spain at 7/4, Russia at 15/4 and Turkey at 14/1.