Tue, Jun 24, 2008 - Page 20 News List

EURO 2008: Justice was done, winning penalty taker says

AFP , VIENNA

Cesc Fabregas believes justice was done on Sunday when he converted the winning penalty that defeated Italy and put Spain into the Euro 2008 semi-finals.

The 21-year-old Arsenal midfield star stepped up to the spot to take the fifth penalty with Spain leading the shoot-out 3-2, after his teammate Daniel Guiza had missed.

Shutting out the pain of Spain’s 88-year stretch without a win over the Italians and their unfortunate knack of losing at the quarter-final stage, the youngster did not let his country down.

And minutes after burying the ball past Gianluigi Buffon to send Spain into ecstasy and on to Thursday’s last four clash with Russia, the 21-year-old said: “When I walked up to take the penalty the goal looked a lot smaller. It’s the first time I’ve taken one in a shoot-out. It was the winner, but you have to remember the penalties that went in before mine. To score was the main target, I wasn’t thinking about history.”

Fabregas believed the 4-2 win after the game had ended goalless after extra-time was the right result.

“In my opinion, justice has been done,” he said.

He had started on the bench, coming on for Xavi Hernandez in the 60th minute not realizing what a crucial part he was going to play.

The win laid to rest Spain’s reputation of folding when the going gets tough, as they had done when losing penalty shoot-outs in the quarter-final games against Belgium at the 1986 World Cup, against England at Euro 96 and against South Korea at the 2002 World Cup — all on June 22.

“This will give us huge confidence,” Fabregas said. “Now we’ve got Russia. We beat them in the group stages [4-1], but the semi-final will be a completely different game.”

He’s relishing the chance of coming up against Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin, who was suspended for the Spanish rout.

“It’s going to be very tough and Andrei Arshavin looks a good player, I didn’t know him before these finals,” Fabregas said.

Fabregas, who has taken time to translate his Arsenal form to the international stage, said he had been heartened by the support he had received since he moved to the English Premier League with Arsenal.

“I must say people in England have been great for me, at clubs like Manchester [United] and Tottenham, well maybe not Tottenham [Arsenal’s bitter North London rivals],” he said.

As for whether Spain can at last make up for years of disappointment and finally get their hands on the European title for the first time since 1964, Fabregas said: “We’re one match away from the final, we’ll do our best.”

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