Youngsters Dani Olmo, Pedri and Federico Chiesa, shone brightly as Italy eliminated Spain from the UEFA Euro 2020 via a penalty shootout.
In what was a lively start to the game, Spain were all over Italy in the early exchanges, not letting them settle into their rhythm while carving out openings. However, they lacked the cutting edge in front of goal to make that domination count. The Azzurri too had their moments, especially on one occasion when Unai Simon was caught in no man’s land, but they failed to make the most of it as the score remained 0-0 at half-time.
A similar pattern followed in the second half as well, although Italy did show a bit more aggression, and it paid off when a swift counter-attack ended with Federico Chiesa curling the ball into the back of the net at the hour mark to hand them the lead. However, Spain fought back hard and managed to level things up twenty minutes later when substitute Alvaro Morata calmly slotted the ball into the net after a neat exchange with Dani Olmo.
With no third goal coming, the contest was forced into extra time, the first half of which was, yet again, controlled by Spain, but Italy held firm. Roberto Mancini’s men did have a half-chance or two in the second period of the added time, but no goal was forthcoming as the game went into the penalty shootout.
Manuel Locatelli and Olmo each missed the first kicks for Italy and Spain, respectively, before the Azzurri converted the next three. However, Morata, who had brought Spain back into the game, saw his spot-kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma before Jorginho dispatched an ice-cold penalty to win it for Italy.
It was a gripping contest that lived up to the billing, with Spain’s lack of killer instincts coming back to haunt them yet again despite having dominated the game for large parts. Italy, for one, were well below their best but held their nerve in the shootouts to make it through to the finals, where they will be facing the winners of England vs Denmark. Here are our player ratings for both Italy and Spain stars.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 7/10
Made a good save in the first half to keep Italy on level terms, but some of his kicking was poor. Well-beaten by Morata for the equaliser but got his revenge by stopping the Spaniard’s penalty in the shootout.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo: 7/10
It was not an easy night for the right-back, who was constantly asked questions of by Ferran Torres and Olmo. Nonetheless, worked very hard defensively. Switched to left-back in the latter stages and did his bit to keep Italy in the game.
Leonardo Bonucci: 7/10
After a masterclass against Belgium, this was a bit of a wake-up call for Bonucci as well as his defensive partner. The movement of the Spain forwards, particularly Olmo, caused problems, although he grew into the game with time, sweeping up whatever came his way. Calm from the spot in the shootout.
Giorgio Chiellini: 7/10
Humanly incredible: Under the crucible of pressure ahead of a Penalty Shoot-Out, Giorgio Chiellini is just a boss. A 36-year old who still loves the game of football with as much passion as when he was a tiny kid pic.twitter.com/lYrENZ1PVw
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) July 6, 2021
Like Bonucci, had problems dealing with the zippy nature of the Spanish forward line but kept at it throughout, putting his body on the line when needed while he was hardly beaten in the air. Won all of his duels on the night, although there were a few uncharacteristic misplaced passes in the first half.
Emerson Palmieri: 6/10
Starting in place of the injured Leonardo Spinazzola, the Chelsea defender made a couple of good driving runs forward on the left, one of which led to the mistake from Simon, which was not capitalised on. Came close with an effort from a tight angle close to half-time. Not involved much after the break before being taken off.
Nicolo Barella: 6/10
One of the goalscorers in the previous game, the midfielder was not at his best against Spain. Did show positive intent when on the ball but couldn’t create anything of note or pose a goal-threat himself. At times sloppy in possession, with one such giveaway leading to a chance for Torres.
Jorginho made seven interceptions against Spain, more than any other player has in a game at Euro 2020.
He also scored the winning penalty. ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/rjBrhwQbzB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 6, 2021
Wasn’t able to dictate the game as he would have liked as Spain dominated on the ball, meaning his game was more about screening the defence, which he did very well. Made a game-high seven interceptions, positioned himself well to cut out passes time and again. And his penalty to win the game! Phew! Such calmness, such composure. It’s like ice runs through his veins.
Marco Verratti: 6.5/10
Took some time to get to grips with how things were panning out, but did have his moments on the ball, one of which saw him release Lorenzo Insigne in the buildup to the opening goal. Not at his best, however.
Federico Chiesa: 8/10
It was a difficult start for the Juventus winger, who found it tough to get into the game in the early exchanges. At one point, it even looked like he was being subbed off. Stayed on, though, and grew into the game with time, looking a danger each time he ran with the ball. Put Italy in front with a beautiful curling effort in the second half and set Domenico Berardi up for a chance, who couldn’t beat Simon.
🇮🇹 Chiesa's curler at Wembley 🥰
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 6, 2021
Ciro Immobile: 6/10
Worked hard, ran tirelessly but ultimately did not have an impact on the game as he was isolated for parts. Needed to react a bit quicker to either shoot or find a teammate after Simon’s error in the first period. There were a few neat exchanges with those around him.
Lorenzo Insigne: 6.5/10
Another player who couldn’t quite really have the impact that he is capable of, Insigne did not see a lot of the ball to work his magic, while the Napoli skipper also missed the overlapping runs of Spinazzola. Did play a beautiful pass in the lead-up to the goal and worked hard throughout.
Domenico Berardi: 6/10
On for Immobile soon after the opening goal, Berardi had a great chance to double Italy’s advantage but fired a tame effort right at Simon. Did put the ball into the net in extra time but had strayed offside.
Matteo Pessina: 6/10
Replaced Verratti and got stuck in, helping his team out in the defensive phase.
Rafael Toloi: 6/10
On in place of Emerson, slotted at right-back, with Di Lorenzo moving to the left. Had some problems against Olmo but held things together. Booked.
Manuel Locatelli: 5/10
Came on in place of Barella in the 85th minute. Shored things up in the middle but missed from the spot in the shootout.
Andrea Belotti: 6/10
Sent on to replace Insigne in the 85th minute. Battled hard, kept the Spanish defenders honest and dispatched a cool penalty.
Federico Bernardeschi: N/A
Extra time substitute for Chiesa. Fine penalty.
Unai Simon: 6/10
This was the exact moment Unai Simon knew he was outdone by Jorginho.
The sheer audacity to try that penalty on the biggest stage, I've got no words. pic.twitter.com/iLIhtPjOyd
— ExpectedChelsea (@ExpectedChelsea) July 6, 2021
Looked nervy each time he tried to come off his line and got caught in no man’s land on one such occasion in the first half. Kicking, too, was a bit poor at times. Did make a save from Berardi, although it was pretty straightforward while stopped Locatelli’s penalty. No chance with Chiesa’s goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
Solid as usual, brought all his experience to the fore to help keep his flank shut down for large parts and even made the odd forward foray as well. Will be disappointed the goal came from his flank, though. Made way for Marcos Llorente late on.
Eric Garcia: 6.5/10
Brought back into the lineup in place of Pau Torres, the young defender wasn’t overawed by the occasion. Defended solidly for the most part, although should have gotten tighter to Chiesa to stop him from taking the shot for the goal.
Aymeric Laporte: 7/10
Spain’s best defender on the night, Laporte made several crucial challenges to cut out Italy’s attacks while being intelligent and accurate with the usage of the ball when in possession. Unfortunate to see his fine tackle to stop Immobile lead to the goal.
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
Not quite at his best, but did his job fairly well. Did not give much away to Chiesa while also providing an outlet down the left. However, his end product was a downer.
May not always stand out like some of his teammates but was crucial to Spain controlling the proceedings the way they did. Crisp with his passing, showed good vision to fashion a few openings as well – the cross to Mikel Oyarzabal in the second half particularly standing out, while pressing hard and high off the ball to keep Italy on their toes.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
The Player in Focus in our preview, Busquets showed that he might be getting older, but he has still got it, as he helped Spain dominate the Italian midfield with ease. Pinpoint precision with the ball at his feet, beat the press of the opposition with comfort time and again while shielding the backline effectively as well. Perhaps a bit lucky to get away without a booking in the first period. Did receive a caution after the break.
Pedri has completed more final third passes than any other player at #EURO2020
◎ 200 final third passes attempted
◉ 177 final third passes completed
Such a bright future ahead of him. ⭐ pic.twitter.com/WqlNpjkvut
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 6, 2021
Just 18, coming on the back of a season during which he played over 50 games, but still so full of energy and vigour as he pressed Jorginho to stop him from getting time on the ball while also catching the eye with his own distribution, chance-creation and driving runs. Did not misplace a single pass over the course of the ninety minutes until he failed to complete two in extra time, finishing with 65/67—a special talent, without a doubt.
Mikel Oyarzabal: 5/10
A surprise selection on the right, the Real Sociedad star looked dangerous with his movement and link-up play but was guilty of squandering two big chances, one each on either side of half-time, which ultimately cost Spain the game.
Dani Olmo: 8/10
The star of the show for Spain, along with Pedri, Olmo, starting as a false-nine, had the Italy backline under the cosh all throughout the game with his movement between the lines while some of his interplay with his teammates was simply sensational – one such move saw him lay off Morata for the equalising goal. Had a shot saved in the first period as well. Fired his penalty over in the shootout, though.
No player left at the tournament has more assists. pic.twitter.com/sSMfqqLXma
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 6, 2021
Ferran Torres: 6/10
Like Oyarzabal on the opposite wing, the Manchester City forward also offered plenty of sharpness with his runs, but the end product was lacking on the night. Subbed off after Italy scored.
Alvaro Morata: 6/10
Came on for Torres in the 62nd minute after having been dropped from the starting XI. Got Spain back into the game with a lovely exchange and finish to make it 1-1 in the 80th minute. Then fired a tame penalty to see his team end up on the losing side.
Alvaro Morata has scored more European Championship goals than any player in Spain's history 👏
— Goal (@goal) July 6, 2021
Gerard Moreno: 6/10
On for Oyarzabal in the 70th minute. Fired a shot over and did not carry much of a threat. Scored in the shootout, though.
Sent on in place of Koke in the 70th minute, continued from where his teammate had left off. Kept Spain ticking over with ease while keeping Italy at bay.
Marcos Llorente: 6/10
On for Azpilicueta in the 85th minute. Provided a fresh injection of pace and energy on the right.
Thiago Alcantara: N/A
Late sub in extra time. Scored from the spot.
Pau Torres: N/A
Late sub for the injured Garcia.