Dominant Spain outclass Italy to book last-16 spot

June 21, 2024 7:45 am

[Source: Reuters]

Spain outclassed defending champions Italy and booked a place in the knockout stages of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 win that was settled by Riccardo Calafiori’s own goal but could have ended in a much bigger victory for Luis de la Fuente’s side.

La Roja, seeking revenge for their elimination from Euro 2020 by the Italians, put the Azzurri on the back foot from the kickoff, driving forward at every opportunity through irrepressible young wingers Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal.

Pedri’s second-minute header from a Williams cross was tipped over by Gianluigi Donnarumma and eight minutes later Williams flashed a header wide, setting the tone for the match as Spain pinned Italy in their half.

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Italy’s usually rock-steady defence was unable to stop the red tide and Donnarumma had to stretch his long frame to tip over a 30-metre rocket from Fabian Ruiz in the 25th minute.

The first Italian attempt did not come until first-half stoppage time and the pressure on coach Luciano Spalletti’s team resumed immediately after the interval.

The deadlock was broken in the 55th minute when Williams fired in a cross from the left which glanced off Alvaro Morata’s head and Donnarumma’s outstretched glove before hitting Calafiori on the knee and going in.

Spain poured forward again with Yamal flashing a shot just wide before Williams curled another effort on to the bar.

Spain will finish top of Group B regardless of the outcome of their last match in the opening phase against Albania on Monday, and will play a third-placed side from another group in the last 16.

Italy must avoid defeat in their last group game against Croatia to guarantee qualification.