Spain hero Iker Casillas admitted his team had been lucky in progressing to the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-finals following their penalty shoot-out victory over world champions Italy.

Casillas stopped penalties from Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale as Spain won the shoot-out 4-2 after a dire goalless draw over 120 minutes.

But he admitted that penalties are a lottery and he struggled to remember the last time he had been on the winning side during the sudden death drama. "The last time, if I remember, was in Japan in the second round of the 2002 World Cup (against Ireland) and then in the quarter-finals Korea knocked us out," he said.

Casillas admitted it had been a cagey affair, but he also denies that Spain have shed the albatross that weighed heavily around their necks having never previously beaten Italy at either the FIFA World Cup™ or EURO championships.

Their other hoodoo was in not getting past the last eight of a competition since the 1984 EURO Championships.

"As the match went on against Italy we had a lot of respect for each other during the 90 minutes and extra-time and in the end it went to penalties," he added.

"It's true that we had this inner war concerning the quarter-finals, but in the end we've made it to the semis. But it's a lottery, and we're lucky to get over that barrier.

"But we would be naive to think that because we beat Russia 4-1 we'll be able to easily make the final.

"They showed what a great team they are against Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands and regardless of what happened before, this is a new match."

Coach Luis Aragones was not impressed with the way his team played, claiming they lacked urgency in their football.

We didn't play great football but neither did Italy
Spain coach Luis Aragones reflects on his side's quarter-final against Italy

"I'm happy as is the whole group because we've gone through but we've only won a small battle," he said. " . We should've played at a higher tempo but we didn't do that.

"But Italy could only threaten us with high balls and we had maybe three clear chances," said the 69-year-old.

"The rhythm of our passing wasn't quite there and when you're in the quarter-finals that's important.

"The pace of the game was slow and if we'd played with more pace we would've created more chances."

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni, on the other hand, said he was proud of his team, who were missing players such as Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Cannavaro and Gennaro Gattuso.

"I can say that they've given their all, they've done their best so I'm proud of them, what they've done and the football they played," he said. "There was no more energy left in any of them. The ones that didn't play tried to encourage their team-mates and that was a result of the great bonding among the players in the group.

"I'm sorry and sad for them because I think they've done really well. I'm happy with the way they played and the result doesn't matter."

The result continued a miserable sequence of penalty shoot-out defeats for Donadoni, who was part of the Italy team beaten that way by Brazil in the FIFA World Cup final in 1994 and who himself missed a penalty in the FIFA World Cup semi-final shootout defeat by Argentina in 1990.

"As I've said before and in the dressing room, in general I've not been very lucky with penalties.

"I lost an under 21s European Championships semi-final, a semi-final and final in the World Cup.

"Sometimes you win on penalties and sometimes you lose but we can hold our heads up high because what we've done is a source of great pride."