Match-winner Fabregas does it again for Spain

Football has been a kind of oasis for people back home: Casillas

For a perpetual substitute Cesc Fabregas has a habit of making match-winning contributions when it counts most for Spain.

Fabregas’ winning penalty against Portugal in the Euro 2012 semifinal shootout on Wednesday added to a collection that includes setting up the winner in the 2010 World Cup final.

Italy, possible opponents in Sunday’s final, will also remember his winning spot-kick after coming off the bench in their quarterfinal at the last European Championship.

“I had a funny feeling about the penalties and I was thinking about them this afternoon. That life has given me another chance like this is really incredible,” Fabregas said after Spain’s 4-2 shootout victory over Portugal.

“When I stepped up to take the penalty I said to the ball that we had to make history and it shouldn’t let me down. They told me initially to take the second one but I said no give me the fifth as I had this premonition.”

Fabregas’ faith proved better placed than Portugal’s in keeping Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo in reserve for the final spot-kick.

The world’s most expensive player and Euro 2012 joint top scorer ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal had to stand and watch helplessly as the Barcelona man put an end to the contest.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento knocked back criticism of his captain not being employed earlier in the shootout.

“Well we had this plan and if it would have been 4-4 and he would have taken the last penalty we would talk in a different way,” he told a news conference.

Spain’s other hero was Sergio Ramos who followed the example set by Italy’s Andre Pirlo against England in nervelessly dinking the ball gently over the goalkeeper.

‘An oasis’

Spain’s run to the Euro 2012 final has been an ‘oasis’ for people back home who are suffering because of the financial crisis, according to captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

“It’s strange what happens in life sometimes,” the 31-year-old known as ‘Saint Iker’ told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

“However, badly things are going for the country in terms of the crisis and all that, football has been a kind of oasis that has allowed people to forget everything a little bit,” he added.

Spain has suffered from soaring borrowing costs amidst a debt crisis and economic downturn that has hit much of Europe.

“Football has been a source of joy and we are happy and excited about that and we want people to make the most of it as it will be difficult to repeat,” added Casillas.

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