Spain coach Vicente del Bosque revealed that Cesc Fàbregas had asked him specifically to take his team's final penalty after the FC Barcelona midfielder stepped up to fire the holders through to Sunday's UEFA EURO 2012 final in Kyiv. The 61-year-old also explained that a wish for "more pace on the pitch" was behind his second-half substitutions, while opposite number Paulo Bento praised his side for being "better in the first 90 minutes".
Paulo Bento, Portugal coach
In my opinion, we've played a very good tournament. Today, I think we were better in the first 90 minutes and then in extra time we were less efficient. We couldn't get a goal, and after we didn't take our chances in the first 90 minutes, Spain became stronger and we lost efficiency.
We let Spain play better in our half in extra time, but in the first 90 minutes we could have decided the game. If I had to choose a way of losing, it would be like this; Spain are a great team and we can leave with our heads held high. The players can now go on holiday, which they deserve. From September, we'll think again and prepare for the 2014 World Cup, but we know we can compete with any team at any level.
The fifth [penalty-taker] would have been Ronaldo. We'd chosen an order of [João] Moutinho, Pepe, Nani and [Bruno] Alves, and then it would have been Ronaldo. We defined that plan and if it had been 4-4 and Ronaldo had the last penalty, we'd be talking about a different situation. I don't regret anything.
We were an aggressive and cohesive team. We tried to control the game as much as it was possible. The way we competed, the way we played – even though we lost this semi-final – allows us to have a lot of confidence and allows the whole country to have confidence. The country is proud of the effort the team showed.
Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach
Portugal were superior when it came to defending. We didn't have that many opportunities, so it was very balanced. In extra time, it was slightly different, and then we had lots of luck in the penalty shoot-out. I want to congratulate Portugal because they played a great tournament, but we were lucky this time.
We don't only want to defend; we want to attack as well. Of course, we are improving our defence and that's thanks to the characteristics of our players. We're very happy about that and that will help us to our next successes.
Xavi wasn't playing badly [when he came off]; he played very well, but he was tired and we wanted more pace on the pitch. Pedro [Rodríguez] and [Jesús] Navas were more active and provided more attacking strength. Xavi has had a great tournament. We created more problems for Portugal after introducing those players. It was vital and the players are getting more mature in each match. Extra time proved they are very experienced.
Of course, all five penalty-takers offered to take the last one.
Cesc told me he wanted to take the fifth one to be able to take the winner; they all wanted to. Sergio Ramos knew that Rui Patrício would go to one side for all the penalties and that's why he decided to do what [Andrea] Pirlo did in the previous match.
The other semi-final will be a top game and whoever our opponents are, the final will be a great match. But we don't care who our opponents are.
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