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Spain tops Italy on penalties in Confederations semifinal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Fortaleza, Brazil, Jun 27 (EFE).- Spain moved within reach of the Confederations Cup - the only international laurel missing from their trophy case - with a penalty shootout win over Italy here Thursday that sent the Iberian side to the final.

The match had echoes of the 2008 European Cup quarterfinal clash that inaugurated the golden age of Spanish soccer.

Just as five years ago, the two sides held each other scoreless through regulation and the overtime and Thursday's contest came down to penalty kicks.

Spain, the reigning World Cup champ and winner of the last two European titles, has become the team to beat in international soccer, forcing other national sides to alter their systems and strategies.

Italy rolled out a new formation on Thursday and put pressure on the Spanish defense, but Sergio Ramos and goalkeeper Iker Casillas showed themselves equal to the task.

As the contest wore on, the Italians began to tire, and Spain had the better part of the play during the overtime - but still no goals.

Neither goalkeeper was a factor in the shootout, which might have gone on even longer had Italy's Bonucci not sent the ball sailing far over the net on his team's seventh shot.

Navas made no mistake when his turn came, giving Spain the win 7-6.

The Spaniards will face Brazil in the final at Rio de Janeiro's storied Maracana stadium.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130627/spain-tops-italy-penalties-confederations-semifinal