SOCCER: Far from its best, Spain still advanced to another major final, beating Portugal 4-2 in a penalty shootout Wednesday after a scoreless draw at the European Championship at Donetsk, Ukraine.
Cesc Fabregas, who came on as a substitute in the second half of regulation time, scored the deciding penalty after Bruno Alves hit the crossbar for Portugal moments earlier.
“I played poorly, but the team worked really hard,” Fabregas said. “I had this intuition that we could advance if we went to penalties and that’s what we did.”
Spain, seeking its third straight major trophy after claiming titles at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, will next face either Germany or Italy on Sunday in Kiev.
Cristiano Ronaldo had several chances for Portugal, but he sent three shots well over the bar as his team held its own for the entire match. The Real Madrid star, who came alive with three goals in his last two matches at the tournament, did not take a penalty in the shootout. He had been slated to take the fifth one, but it never got that far.
Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta forced Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio into a superb reflex save in the 103rd minute. Iniesta ghosted into the penalty area then held his head in disbelief as Rui Patricio reacted brilliantly to get a strong hand on his shot after Jordi Alba cut the ball back toward the penalty spot.
Rui Patricio made another fine save to deny substitute Jesus Navas in the 111th.
Coach tweets: Show players the money
college football: The new playoff system means big money to the schools in major college football, as much as a half billion dollars per year just in television rights alone.
That has Texas coach Mack Brown – among others – wondering if some of that windfall ought to be heading the players way.
Brown tweeted: “In my opinion, with the amount of money the playoff will generate, I hope we can revisit the student-athlete stipend.”
• College of Idaho joins Frontier: The College of Idaho is joining the Frontier Conference as a football-only member in the fall of 2014, when it revives its football program after a 35-year absence.
The addition of COI will give the Frontier nine football-playing teams. This fall, Dickinson State University joins the conference in all sports while Southern Oregon University joins in football only.
Rockets, Bucks deal as draft approaches
NBA: The Milwaukee Bucks are getting a much-needed big man and the Houston Rockets are positioning themselves to make a big move.
The Bucks acquired veteran center Samuel Dalembert from the Rockets in a trade. The Bucks said they got Dalembert, the 14th overall pick in today’s draft, a future second round pick and cash considerations from Houston in exchange for forwards Jon Brockman and Jon Leuer, guard Shaun Livingston and the 12th pick.
Houston is apparently positioning itself for a blockbuster move. The Rockets now have the No. 12, 16 and 18 picks in the draft, but the team may make more moves as they put together a package to land a superstar big man – possibly Orlando’s Dwight Howard or Atlanta’s Josh Smith.
Kenseth has deal; reports say Gibbs
Miscellany: Matt Kenseth has kept his name out of the rumor mill for most of his NASCAR career.
When it finally popped up, it was a bombshell: The Sprint Cup Series points leader was planning his departure from Roush Fenway Racing.
Kenseth said that he has a new deal already in place for 2013, and although he said he’s not ready to announce it, all signs point to a move to Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Everybody’s personality is different, and I’ve always preferred to do as much of my business as possible behind closed doors because it’s my business and my career,” Kenseth said.
• Local guards meet in WNBA: Starting point guards with Spokane ties squared off in an WNBA game in Rosemont, Ill.
Briann January, a Lewis and Clark High School product, had seven points and three assists for the Indiana Fever, who defeated the Chicago Sky 81-72.
Former Gonzaga University standout Courtney Vandersloot had eight points and four assists for Chicago.
Shavonte Zellous led a balanced offense with a season-high 18 points for Indiana, winners of three of their last four games. Tamika Catchings added 17 points.