Jorginho and Gianluigi Donarumma were the heroes as, at the end of a fantastic match, Italy beat Spain 4-2 on penalties to reach the final of Euro 2020.
Spain had much the better of a throbbing first half, dominating possession and creating chances. But, yet again, the absence of a proper striker hampered them, with Mikel Oyarzabal and Dani Olmo both missing presentable chances. Italy, though, were also dangerous on the odd occasion they could attack, and came close to scoring on the stroke of half-time when good play from Lorenzo Insigne allowed Emerson to fire a shot that clipped the top of the bar.
if anything, the pace intensified after half-time, again Spain settling it. But after 60 minutes, Federico Chiesa curled home a beautiful finish at the end of a counter that looked likely to be the winner. Spain, though, kept at it, and with 10 minutes remaining, Alvaro Morata, on as sub, played a gorgeous one-two with Olmo to stroke home an expert’s finish.
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Spain pushed hard for the winner in the closing stages, but Italy held firm to earn the game the additional thirty minutes it merited, ad in extra-time, the pattern continued. Having found it hard to get on the ball when fresh, Italy struggled even harder when exhausted, looking far less threatening on the break. Spain, though, could not break them down and tired too, so to penalties we went.
Both countries missed their opening efforts but then Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Spain’s fourth attempt from Morata, allowing Jorginho to slip home his. So Italy are into the final, and both Denmark and England know that it’ll take a special performance to beat them.
There’s something extremely poetic about Italy trying not to Italy Spain and still Italying Spain. But that’s how this game went, Spain’s passing and movement too much for their midfield and limiting them to counters.
Nevertheless, Italy have been the competition’s most consistent side and thoroughly deserve their place in the final. If able to play, they play, and if not, they stick in.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Jorginho of Italy celebrates scoring their sides winning penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium on July 06, 2021 in London, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
But the fear remains that, though they have several very good attackers, they lack any of truly elite level. Should Denmark be their next opponents, that is unlikely to be a problem, but England have a frankly ludicrous number of players able to settle a tight game.
In general, the match-up doesn’t look a great one for Italy because England’s midfield power and athleticism might exploit Jorginho’s lack of the same. But things don’t always work like that. Roberto Mancini has built a cohesive, aggressive and remorseless unit, who know how to win and have forgotten how to lose. And best of all, any game with them in it, is a game worth watching.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Dani Olmo (Spain) Took one of the worst penalties ever, but was a constant threat throughout 120 minutes and crafted Spain’s equaliser beautifully.
Italy: Donnarumma 7, Di Lorenzo 6, Bonucci 7, Chiellini 8, Emerson 7, Barella 6, Jorginho 6, Verratti 7, Chiesa 7, Immobile 6, Insigne 6. Subs: Berardi 6, Toloi 5, Pessina 6, Belotti 6, Locatelli 6, Bernardeschi 6.
Spain: Simon 6, Azpilicueta 7, Garcia 6, Laporte 7, Alba 6, Koke 7, Busquets 8, Pedri 8, F Torres 5, Oyarzabal 5, Olmo 8.Subs: Morata 6, Rodri 7, Moreno 6, Llorente 6, Thiago 6, P Torres 6.
Italy have now reached their 10th major tournament final. Of the European nations, only Germany, with 14, have been in more.
25’ – Chance for Italy! A poor clearance from Donnarumma fell to Busquets, who immediately set Spain away. As usual, he plays a canny pass that set an attack away and as usual, Pedri plays a killer pass, finding Olmo on the right of the box. He bundles past Bonucci and he’s going to score … no he isn’t! Donnarumma makes a smart low save, but he oughtn’t to have smelled it.
45’ Insigne sidewinds at Azpilicueta, who won’t let him inside onto his right foot, so he goes outside to Emerson, who takes a touch and whams a shot against the top of the bar! That was superb play from all three of them.
52’ – Italy really need to change something. Azpilcueta slides in brilliantly to win a tackle and set Oyarzabal away at the same time. He cuts towards the box and squares to Busquets – yes Busquets! – who uses the pace to sweep a first-time shot towards the near post … but just over the bar.
60’ – OH MY DAYS WHAT A GOAL! Italy 1-0 Spain (Chiesa) Spain move it and move it, then a poor cross from Alba is caught by Donnarumma and Italy counter! The original move goes through Verratti, then out to Insigne who finds Immobile. he’s closed down by Laporte but the ball breaks to Chiesa, who steps inside Garcia, and power-curls another brutal finish into the far side-netting! WE ARE COOKING!
65’ – I’ll tell you what! A poor clearance from Berardi allows Koke to pick a terrific curling pass over the top, and Oyarzabal is there! But trying to deftly run it off his fringe and into the bottom corner, he misses the ball entirely! Is bad finishing contagious?
68’ – A great tournament is a tournament with great closing stages, and this one is not disappointing. Here come Italy again, Chiesa finding space in behind Jordi Alba and sending Berardi away! But his low driveis too close to Unai Simon, who saves long barrier. That was really well done, and might just’ve kept his team in the competition.
80’ GOAL! Italy 1-1 Spain (Morata!) OH ALVARO! Laporte finds Morata, who plays a luscious give and go with Olmo, strides into the box, does the keeper with the eyebrows, and when he dives far, slides near. That is an expert’s finish!
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