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Spain set up dream decider

The Confederations Cup has got the final that nearly everyone wanted.

The World Cup holder against the five-times champion. The two-time European champions against the tournament host. Spain's passing wizards versus Brazil's new star Neymar.

Spain came through an exhausting encounter by winning a penalty shootout 7-6 over Italy in the semi-final last night and will face Brazil in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium on Sunday to cap the World Cup warm-up tournament.

DESERVE

"I think everybody was waiting for this Confederations Cup final to be Spain v Brazil," Spain captain Iker Casillas said. "I think the two teams that deserve to play the final are actually playing it."

Jesus Navas scored the decisive penalty in the shootout after extra time ended 0-0 in a draining match that was made more difficult by heat and thick humidity.

Nobody missed in the shootout until Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci shot over the bar to give Navas an attempt at the winner. The recently signed Manchester City midfielder cooly beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to end a top-class battle and send Spain to another major final.

While calling his squad "lucky" to win, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was not about to concede the final due to fatigue, even though Spain has one less day of rest than Brazil, who beat Uruguay 2-1 on Wednesday.

"We have to now consider what we have to do in the three days to recover. And we will definitely stand up to Brazil in the Maracana," the manager said. "The players should feel just as happy as kids playing in the Maracana.

"They have won a lot, but they want to win in the Maracana."

GLORY

It will be the fourth major final Spain will play in five years, while Brazil are hoping to rekindle their glory under Felipe Scolari, who led the Selecao to the 2002 World Cup title.

"It will be a special match for the Brazilians, and also for the Spanish team to play in the Maracana," Casillas said. "This is something very enticing and it whets our appetite."

Before kickoff, about 5,000 anti-government protesters battled police about 2km from the stadium. More protests are expected at Sunday's final of the World Cup warm-up tournament.


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