Fabregas spot-on for Spain

Spain set up Russia return meeting

Cesc Fabregas scored the winning penalty to send Spain into the semi-finals of Euro 2008 after a 4-2 shoot-out victory over Italy.

The Arsenal star kept his cool from the spot to beat Gianluigi Buffon and set up a semi-final meeting with Russia on Thursday after Antonio Di Natale and Daniele De Rossi both missed from the spot for Italy as Spain reached their first semi-final since 1984.

The game ended goalless after extra-time following a tense and hard-fought battle in Vienna with chances few and far between.

The Spaniards went closest to scoring in the 81st minute when Buffon fumbled a shot from Marcos Senna on to the post, while Mauro Camoranesi saw his shot blocked by the legs of Iker Casillas.

Spain dominated possession in the early stages and had the first chance in the eighth minute with David Silva playing a one-two with David Villa before his shot took a deflection from Daniele De Rossi and went straight to the hands of goalkeeper Buffon.

Torres wasted a good chance to break the deadlock in the 17th minute when his cross was way off target with Villa and Xavi waiting in the box.

Italy finally had their first effort on goal in the 18th minute, with Simone Perrotta latching onto Massimo Ambrosini's cross but his header proved an easy catch for Casillas.

Midway through the first half Villa's powerful free-kick towards the far post forced Buffon into action.

Buffon's next save was all the more impressive as he was forced to fully stretch to save Silva's left-footed strike from the edge of the area on the half-hour mark.

Luca Toni should have broken the deadlock shortly after but his header from Antonio Cassano's cross hit Carlos Marchena.

Spain picked up where they left off after the re-start and Giorgio Chiellini made a crucial tackle inside the area on Silva who tried to punish the Italians for a defensive error.

Villa then wasted a good chance when his cross went off target with Torres waiting in the box.

Donadoni made his first substitution before the hour mark, with Mauro Camoranesi replacing Perrotta in an attempt to give the Azzurri a spark up front.

Aragones replied by sending on Santi Cazorla and Fabregas for Xavi and Iniesta.

Italy had the best chance in the 62nd minute with Camoranesi's close-range strike forcing Casillas to make a desperate foot clearance after confusion in the box.

Marcos Senna warmed the hands of Buffon with a stinging free-kick with 11 minutes remaining.

Lucky escape
Soon after, Buffon tried to collect a shot from Senna but the ball bounced out of his grasp. The goalkeeper scrambled toward the goal-line to get the ball and fortunately, for the Italian, it struck the post before staying out.

Aragones made his last substitution with five minutes remaining in regular time

with Daniel Guiza replacing Torres.

Zambrotta made a vital clearance with Villa ready to hit the target from Fabregas' brilliant cross, but there was no way of avoiding extra time.

Silva fired inches wide after Chiellini had blocked Fabregas' powerful strike inside the area after the re-start.

Italy kept up the pressure and twice had the chance to break the deadlock.

Casillas made an acrobatic save from Di Natale's close-range header while Toni nodded the ball over the crossbar as the Azzurri got closer.

Buffon was forced to come off his line to clear Villa's close-range effort while Cazorla fired wide instead of passing to the unmarked Villa at the far post as penalties were required.

Casillas saved spot-kicks from De Rossi and Di Natale after a goalless 120 minutes before Fabregas slid the winning penalty past Buffon.