World and European champions Spain rode their luck to beat rivals Italy in the second semi final of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. Vicente del Bosque's Spanish armada was held to a goalless draw through 90 minutes of regular time and 30 minutes of extra time but held their nerve to beat the 2006 FIFA World Cup champions on penalties.
The match began at considerable pace and there was flowing and attacking football from both sides, with Italy surprisingly the more precise in opening exchanges. Spain captain Iker Casillas, returned to his No 1 position for this game, pulled off at least three excellent stops in the first 30 minutes, including two point-blank headers and a superb long-range shot from Emanuele Giaccherini was fisted away.
At the other end, the Barcelona trio of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Pedro were causing Cesare Prandelli's men quite a few problems. And Chelsea striker Fernando Torres was in good form as well, holding the ball up well and playing his strike partners into good positions.
Iniesta, in particular, was proving to be a handful and the man whose goal won Spain the 2010 FIFA World Cup linked well with left-back Jordi Alba, another Barcelona man, to create a few chances down Italy's right flank.
The two teams went into half time goalless and del Bosque responded by brining on right-winger Jesus Navas, Manchester City's newest signing. Navas was soon in his element, forcing Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon into a save.
As the half wore on, Spain were showing a lack of physical drive and despite decent efforts from Iniesta and Torres, it was Claudio Marchisio who very nearly became the hero. His shot was blocked by Gerard Pique.
The game continued to be an absorbing affair, with Giaccherini a key player in the Azzurri's attacks. The 28-year-old Juventus forward hit the post in extra time but that was about the end of whatever attacking play Italy could muster.
Sergio Ramos, Pique and substitute Juan Mata all had further efforts but it went down to spot kicks... and a clearly tired Christian Bonucci missed his shot. Navas took full advantage to put Spain into a mouth-watering clash with Brazil in Sunday's final.
Italy face Uruguay in Saturday's third place play-off.