Alvaro Negredo has admitted that Spain's Euro 2012 semi-final win over Portugal was "an ugly match", but was nonetheless proud of the eventual outcome as the titleholders progressed to Sunday's final with a penalty shoot-out victory.
The Sevilla man somewhat surprisingly got the nod up front as both Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres had to settle for a place on the bench, and had a difficult match versus Portugal's centre-backs Pepe and Bruno Alves.
"It was a very ugly game, in the sense that there were many aerial balls, lots of clashes, tackles, and I had to fight for every inch to wear the opposition out and make way for other players who could give other abilities to the team which were important later on," Negredo told Goal.com.
"I am very happy as we finally got what we wanted, this was a great result in a very tough match and we should be proud of it even if it wasn't truly achieved in style.
"To know that I was starting took me by surprise, it took a while to sink in because I knew it was a unique moment and I had to do my best. I tried to respond to my coach's confidence and do a job that maybe wasn't very flashy but very important instead; the dirty work of a physical fight with the Portuguese defenders to wear them out. It's hard to face physical players like Pepe or Bruno Alves."
Spain will meet either Germany or Italy in the final on July 1.