Euro 2020: Day 26
Italy faced Spain in a repeat of the 2012 European Championship final, looking to reach the final for the fourth time, having lost that encounter in Kyiv 4-0 against the Spaniards, who themselves were aiming to reach their 5th final, having won back to back titles in 2008 and 2012 before entering a lean period in terms of success in more recent years. Spain went into the game with a slight advantage in the head to head encounters, with 13 wins to 11, with another 11 draws between the pair, 7 of the last 14 games having ended all square.
Having misfired throughout the tournament, Spain they once again made changes to their front line with Morata dropped and Mikel Oyarzabal coming in, while with Sarabia injured Dani Olmo also started. At the back, Eric García came back in alongside former club colleague Laporte, in place of Pau Torres. Meanwhile, as expected, Emerson of Chelsea came in at full-back for Italy in place of the injured Spinazzola in an otherwise unchanged side.
Verratti flew into a foul in the opening minute, before Olmo then did the same as the game started at a frantic pace. Emerson then sent Barella through after 3 minutes, his bending effort hitting the post but the flag was already up when he hit it, Italy starting on the front foot, Spain when they had the ball opting for probing and possession as is their usual style. Pedri then played in Oyarzabal in what looked like another tight call, but the winger failed to get the ball under his control anyway and the danger was cleared, Spain starting to grow into the game more with Busquets and Pedri pulling the strings in the middle.
Emerson then got in behind, and the danger grew when Simón rushed out and failed to deal with the clearance, but Spain managed to keep their shape and prevent the Italian attack from getting a shot away while the keeper was allowed time to recover his position, the best opening in the opening 20 minutes for Italy, and another example of how they looked to use their width despite the absence of Spinazzola.
Spain then had a chance themselves, Dani Olmo having his initial shot blocked before getting a second chance from around the penalty spot, but his half volley was parried away by the large frame of Donnarumma, who did well to get down quickly and block the shot after his initial error had given possession away, Spain having enjoyed over 70% of the ball up to that point.
Dani Olmo and Oyarzabal were both guilty of firing over when space opened up for a shot on goal, as Spain continued to enjoy the better of the chances in the first half. Into the final minute Italy once again opened up the Spanish back line from the left hand side with a rare chance, this time Insigne carrying the ball before teeing up Emerson, whose effort from a tight angle clipped the crossbar and went over, although Simón appeared to have it covered, the ref allowing no stoppage time at the end of the first period meaning it was all square at the break.
Busquets went close 5 minutes into the second half, when just moments after picking up a booking for an accumulation of fouls, Oyarzabal picked out the Barcelona midfielder on the edge of the area in space after cutting in from the right hand side, the curling effort from the edge of the box going just over the bar. Almost immediately at the other end Federico Chiesa then worked the space for an opportunity himself, firing through the legs of the Spanish defence from an angle but Simón getting down to save, the game starting to open up.
Italy broke the deadlock on the hour mark, and it was another counter attack that saw them open up the Spanish defence once more. With Spain on the attack, Italy won the ball back, springing it forward to Immobile. Laporte initially did brilliantly, sliding in to prevent the ball reaching Immobile, but the ball fell kindly to the feet of Federico Chiesa, who took a touch and curled one into the far corner, another great strike from the Juventus forward, his second of the tournament.
Oyarzabal was then guilty of another big miss as the ball was chipped in by Koke, and he failed to make any contact, before Dani Olmo then sliced one just wide from the edge of the box, Spain having sent on Morata in an attempt to get back into the game. Italy also continued to create, Berardi getting a chance but his shot from a tight angle being blocked by the legs of Simón.
Morata then sprung the offside trap, but delaying his shot saw the chance evaporate, although they did get a corner out of it, but it had to count as another wasted opportunity. A long punt forward by Italy was then smashed against Laporte by Simón, Spain for not the first time this tournament creating their own problems at the back.
Berardi then put one into Simón, a miss that was to prove costly as Álvaro Morata then pulled Spain level, a quick one-two with Dani Olmo at the other end and a clinical finish into the bottom corner after receiving the return ball. The Juventus forward then picked out Busquets minutes later, but again he was guilty of firing his shot over the crossbar, the game entering the final 5 minutes with both sides making further changes, with as much an eye on extra time as trying to claim victory in the closing stages.
With neither side able to regain the advantage, it headed to extra time, Spain again starting strongly as they had finished normal time, Morata again causing problems in the Italy box but Spain failing to convert. Llorente then had a shot blocked after Donnarumma had initially come out to take the ball off the head of Morata, Spain enjoying all the chances in the first period of extra time.
Italy then had the ball in the back of the net with Domenico Berardi hooking home, but the goal was quickly, and correctly, ruled out for offside as players on both sides began to tire in the closing 10 minutes of what had been a brilliant tie, with neither side able to create that one last killer chance to nick a win, meaning we would once again have penalties to decide who would progress.
Italy stepped up first, and Simón handed Spain the advantage with a big save to deny Manuel Locatelli, but it proved to be short lived as Dani Olmo then skied his effort over the bar. Belotti was next up for Italy, Simón diving the right way but the spot kick perfectly placed into the corner. Gerard Moreno was up next, and scored his, the keeper again guessing the right way but another clinical spot kick to bring Spain level.
Bonucci and Thiago were next up, both dispatching with minimum fuss, before late substitute Bernardeschi fired one into the top corner, the best penalty kick to date, pilling the pressure on goalscorer Álvaro Morata, who had his spot kick saved by the outstretched hand of Donnarumma meaning Italy had a chance to progress as Jorginho stepped up for their final penalty. The Chelsea midfielder casually rolled the ball into the corner sending Italy into the final, Simón completely wrong footed and barely managing a dive, calmness personified.
Over in Brazil, with the host nation having reached the final yesterday with a slender 1-0 win, Argentina faced Colombia to see who would progress to the final to face them in the final on Saturday. Argentina took the lead just 7 minutes in, Messi with the assist for Internazionale striker Lautaro Martínez to give them an early lead, before Colombia hit back in the 2nd half in Brasília, meaning penalties would decide the winner in the capital. Aston Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez proved the hero, saving 3 spot kicks as Argentina won the shoot-out 3-2 to set up a classic final in the Maracanã Stadium this weekend, in the early hours of Sunday, the same day as the Euro 2020 final.Share this: