Kiev, June 25 (QNA) - After a tale of missed chances during regulation time and somehow squeaking through the penalty shootout, thanks to the failure of England's Ashleys - Young and Cole, Italy can now focus on the sterner test that awaits them in the European Championship semi-final against Germany in Warsaw on Thursday, the day after holders Spain play Portugal in Donetsk.
Following Italy's dramatic penalty shoot-out win against England, just four teams remain in the running to hoist the Henri Delaunay Cup aloft at Kiev's Olympic Stadium on Sunday July 1, Uefa.com reports.
Holders Spain are aiming to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments but will have to get past Portugal in the first semi-final in Donetsk to keep that dream alive. The winners of that match will then keep a close eye on the action in Warsaw as Germany take on Italy for the right to join them in the showpiece.
The semi-final action gets under way at the Donbass Arena on Wednesday night, with two-time winners Spain hoping to advance beyond their Iberian neighbours just as they did in the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when David Villa's second-half strike sealed a 1-0 success for the eventual tournament victors.
Portugal triumphed the last time the sides met at this level, however, Nuno Gomes earning a 1-0 group stage win for the hosts at UEFA Euro 2004 that knocked La Roja out.
Portugal also came out on top the last time the teams crossed paths, posting an eye-catching 4-0 friendly victory in Lisbon in November 2010. With Cristiano Ronaldo finding form and scoring all his team's goals in the 2-1 defeat of the Netherlands and the 1-0 quarter-final win against the Czech Republic, Paulo Bento's side will be hopeful of prevailing. Spain, though, will be high on confidence after a comfortable 2-0 success against France in the last round.
The following night, Italy take on Germany for the first time in a competitive fixture since the Azzurri ended their bid to clinch the 2006 World Cup on home soil in the semi-finals. Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero found the net in extra time to record a 2-0 victory in Dortmund, ten years after the last meeting between the teams in a UEFA European Championship a 0-0 group stage draw at Old Trafford.
The great rivals also famously contested the decider at the 1982 World Cup, when Italy won 3-1 to clinch their third global title and last before going all the way six years ago.
Joachim Low's current crop are in excellent form at UEFA Euro 2012, being the only team to win all four of their games. They are also the competition's top scorers so far, adding four more as they saw off Greece in the last eight.
Italy have kept a lower profile, meanwhile, though they earned plaudits for their opening 1-1 draw with Spain and reached the last four by holding their nerve from the spot in Kiev.
Wednesday 27, June 2012
Match No. 29: Portugal v Spain, 20.45CET, Donetsk
Thursday 28, June 2012
Match No. 30: Germany v Italy, 20.45CET, Warsaw
Sunday 1 July 2012
Match No 31: W#29 v W#30, 20.45CET, Kiev. (QNA)