Italy put up a brave fight against the world number-one team, but Spain is through to the final after Leonardo Bonucci’s penalty miss allowed the favorites an opportunity.
An exciting yet goalless match saw Spain play bend but don’t break for most of the match, and their late charge in extra time wasn’t enough despite hitting the post a number of times.
Bonucci shot high and right after six scores for each side in the shootout, and Jesus Navas finished it off for Spain to book their ticket to the finals, where they will face the much more rested Brazil.
Keepers Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon weren’t even able to get a sniff of the ball during the shootout, with both driven and cheeky chip efforts finding their ways into the back of the net. Only Bonucci’s miss didn’t end up in goal.
Buffon kept Spain out but also looked shaky as he has the whole tournament, and it will leave Italy fans wondering how much the legendary keeper has left in the tank. He looked especially off-balance on a shot by Jesus Navas late in extra time that he dove awkwardly at and could only palm it into the post and out.
Italy also struggled to find the final touch without Mario Balotelli in the lineup, as the mercurial youngster missed out with a torn quad, having already returned to Italy.
Spain also struggled in front of goal early, finishing the first half with 68% of possession but only firing off two shots to Italy’s nine.
The host nation Brazil will now face their toughest test yet in Spain, with both teams struggling but winning in their semifinals. Brazil didn’t bring their A+ game to their match with Uruguay, but it was enough to win after Diego Forlan had a key penalty saved.
The final will be on Sunday at 5:00 PM on ESPN.
Italy will play Uruguay in the battle for third place on Sunday at 10 AM on ESPN.