Spain ended the record run of European champions Italy unbeaten in 37 consecutive matches when Ferran Torres scored twice in a 2-1 victory at the San Siro in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals.
Italy, who trailed by two goals in the first half, had to play the entire second half with 10 men after captain Leonardo Bonucci was sent off, but showed real determination in their quest to avoid their first loss since their September 2018 defeat by Portugal.
“That’s how games are, sometimes certain things can affect. This is a disappointment. We should have stayed 11 players, we made a mistake that we can’t do at this level of matches,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said.
Spain will meet the winner of tomorrow’s match between France and Belgium in the final next Sunday.
Torres put Spain ahead in the 17th minute, when he converted a cross pass from the left by Mikel Oyarzabal with a direct shot at Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Italy and Argentina write the last line in Euro and Copa America
Donnarumma, who was booed by angry AC Milan fans after his move to Paris St Germain, almost gave Spain the second goal when he mishandled Marcos Alonso’s shot that bounced off the crossbar, but Bonucci cleared the ball.
The strong start settled any questions about the significance of the match, which was not one-way, as Italy began to crack holes in the Spanish defence.
Federico Bernardeschi came close to scoring with a low shot from the right, but Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon saved it and hit the post.
Lorenzo Insigne missed a dangerous opportunity when he fired a shot wide of the goal when he found space on the edge of the penalty area.
Italy, who beat Spain on penalties in the Euro 2020 semi-final last July, found themselves with 10 men in the 42nd minute after Bonucci was sent off for a second yellow card for elbowing Sergio Busquets.
Torres added his second goal before the end of the first half when he found himself unsupervised to convert another superb cross pass from Oyarzabal with a header into the goal.
Mancini sent veteran Giorgio Chiellini after the break after he was suddenly absent from the starting lineup. Despite Spain’s bold performance, Italy remained in the match.
Spain gave the 17-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi the opportunity to debut, who became the youngest player ever to start a match with Spain, after only three games he played from the beginning with his club, but there was no indication of a lack of experience in his performance, as he seemed confident. and coherent.
Enrico Chiesa was the source of brilliance in Italy, as he hit the post from a difficult angle in the 61st minute.
Oyarzabal sent a header to the side of the goal after a good effort from another young man, winger Yeremi Pino, and Alonso almost won the victory in the 78th minute, but his ground shot was successfully saved by Donnarumma.
Italy reduced the difference seven minutes before the end when Chiesa took advantage of the hesitation of the Spanish defense and cut the distance from the middle of the field to the penalty area to pass the ball to substitute Lorenzo Pellegrini to score easily.
But Italy’s career ended, and so did its dream of winning the Nations League title on its soil and joining the European Championship.
This victory represents Spain’s revenge for its loss in the European Championship semi-finals at Wembley Stadium.
“We knew it was a special match, we were in the semi-finals of the European Championship and the best way was to win at home in another semi-final,” Torres said.