Fabregas chooses right moment for his first penalty

June 23rd, 2008 - 12:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, June 23 (DPA) The one thing the Spanish national football team does not lack is experienced players, yet when needing a man to take a decisive penalty against Italy Sunday in the Euro 2008 quarter-final, they turned to a midfielder who had only just turned 21. Cesc Fabregas had never before taken a penalty in a senior match.

“I think I took some penalties as a 15-year-old but never as an adult,” the Arsenal midfielder said.

Fabregas had come on in the second half in Ernst Happel Stadium and immediately made his presence felt by giving the Spanish forward play more direction.

But even his introduction could not break the deadlock, and at the end of 120 minutes, the score remained goalless, and a penalty shoot-out was needed to decide who would face Russia in the semi-finals.

After Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had saved one penalty and Fabregas’ team-mate Iker Casillas two, the score was 3-2 in favour of Spain, who still had one penalty to go.

Fabregas was the man to take it, and he was the man who scored.

“For me, it was just a penalty,” he said. “I wanted to score, and that was the main target. It was my first penalty, as I have never before taken a penalty.”

Fabregas, who joined Arsenal as a teenager without playing senior football in Spain, said that when he looked up before taking the shot, the goal looked “very small.”

“But I wanted to score. And I did, so I am very happy for that,” he said. “I think it was justice that we won, because we were the better side.”

Fabregas said he was certain that the semi-final against Russia would be a very different match from Spain’s 4-1 victory against Guus Hiddink’s side in the group phase.

“We know they are a very good side, they are very tough, and it will be a tough game,” he said. “But we came here to win a tournament, and we have always said that we will take it game by game.”

Fabregas said that he was very grateful for Arsenal because they gave him the chance to develop as a footballer.

“I came to England as a boy, and now I am a man,” he said. “People in England have been very great to me. They have shown a lot of respect for me.”

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