Spain end Italy’s unbeaten run to reach Nations League final
Spain ends Italy’s unbeaten run to reach the Nations League final.
Spain ended Italy’s world-record 37-match unbeaten run with a 2-1 win at the San Siro stadium in their Nations League semifinal on Wednesday. Ferran Torres scored twice.
In the final on Sunday, Spain will play the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between France and Belgium.
Torres put Spain ahead in the 17th minute,
heading a left-wing cross from Mikel Oyarzabal past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into the far corner.
In the 42nd minute, Leonardo Bonucci was sent off for a second yellow card after elbowing Sergio Busquets, reducing Roberto Mancini’s team to ten men for the first time since beating Spain on penalties in the Euro 2020 semifinal in July.
“This is how matches are, and particular events may occasionally affect them,”
Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. “This is a huge letdown. We should have stayed with 11 men; we made a critical error at this level.”
When Torres was left unattended to head home another beautiful cross from Oyarzabal,
he gave Luis Enrique’s team a two-goal advantage at the half.
Enrico Chiesa took advantage of sluggish Spanish defense to score seven minutes from time,
slipping the ball to substitute Lorenzo Pellegrini to convert.
Donnarumma, who was booed by AC Milan supporters who engage by his recent transfer to PSG,
almost gave Spain a second goal when he mishandled a harmless Marcos Alonso attempt against the post,
but Bonucci scrambled the ball away.
Any doubts about the match’s significance had been dispelled by a blazing start,
and it was far from one-way traffic as Italy began to open up the Spanish defense.
Federico Bernardeschi came close to equalizing with a low shot from the right that Spain keeper Unai Simon pushed against the post,
and Lorenzo Insigne squandered a wonderful opportunity by shooting wide from the outside of the box.
Luis Enrique, Spain’s coach, said of Gavi, who at 17 years and 62 days became the country’s youngest player: “He’s behaving as if he’s in a schoolyard.
It’s a pleasure to see a player with that kind of personality.”
He is both the future and the present of the national team.