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Spain Beats Italy After Epic Penalty Kick Shootout

Today, Spain played Italy in the semifinal of the Confederations Cup. It was a great game, likely the best of the tournament, because for the first time in years, Spain looked vulnerable. Italy countered Spain's dominance in possession by countering quickly when they won the ball, attacking through wing play or dropping balls behind Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué, who anchored Spain's defense.

Italy had the better of the chances through the first 90 minutes, but neither team was able to score. In extra time, Spain pounded Italy's exhausted defense, but couldn't break through, either. So after 120 minutes, the match was to be decided by penalty kicks. The winner would advance to play Cup host Brazil in the final.


The penalty kick shootout was a clinic. Even without an injured Mario Balotelli, who never misses his penalties, the two teams still boasted the most technical players in the world, like Xavi, Iniesta, Pirlo, De Rossi, Mata, Aquilani, and Navas. It felt like we had something special when Antonio Candreva opened the penalty kick contest by lazily chipping the ball down the middle of the goal to put Italy up, 1-0. Spanish keeper Iker Casillas and Italy's Gianluigi Buffon never had a chance.

Italy made six straight before Leonardo Bonucci skied his penalty over the crossbar. Spain never missed, and booked their trip to the final when Jesus Navas calmly slotted home the final shot for the 7-6 victory. All the kicks, though, are worth watching.

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