A lot was expected of Italy and Spain when they met in the Euro 2020 semifinal at Wembley on Tuesday. Somehow, they delivered something even better with a thrilling 120-minute match that went to penalties, and Italy found a way to win.
Spain were great, dominated possession and created plenty of chances, but couldn’t finish things off and had their hearts broken in the shootout.
Barcelona’s Eric García, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Pedri all started for La Roja, who were the better team from the start thanks in no small part to a fantastic performance from Pedri, who dominated midfield with his energy, intelligence and passing.
But Italy have a great defense, and they managed to keep Spain from finding the back of the net in the first half and scored themselves with their first true chance of the game in the second half, when Federico Chiesa scored a gorgeous curler to put the Italians ahead.
Spain didn’t give up and continued to attack, and Álvaro Morata came off the bench to play a gorgeous one-two with Dani Olmo and equalize with 10 minutes to go.
The game went to extra-time, and Spain continued to dominate the ball and look dangerous, but once again the Italian backline held on and took it to penalties.
In the shootout, Unai Simón saved Locatelli’s first spot kick and Spain looked in great position. But Dani Olmo sent his penalty over the bar, Italy scored their next three, and Álvaro Morata had his penalty saved by Donnarumma which opened the door for Jorginho to win it.
As he usually does, he stepped up with confidence and sent Italy to the final.
ITALY HAVE DONE IT!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 6, 2021
THEY BOOK THEIR PLACE IN THE EURO 2020 FINAL! pic.twitter.com/9qIynJzOev
Spain’s first two games gave very little reason for excitement in the group stage, but they became stronger and more resilient as the tournament went on, and they played a truly great semifinal for such a young team.
Italy will face either England or Denmark in the final, and it’s hard to bet against the Azzurri right now.