Spain have eventually put an end to the 37-game unbeaten run of European champions, Itlay after defeating them 2-1 in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League in San Siro.
Although this could be seen as Uefa’s secondary tournament, Spain got a measure of revenge for their Euro 2020 semi-final penalty shootout defeat by eventual winners Italy at Wembley.
Manchester City’s Ferran Torres scored Spain’s goals in Milan from two Mikel Oyarzabal crosses to send Luis Enrique’s side to Sunday’s final. They will play either Belgium or France.
At 1-0 down Italy were already second best, when captain Leonardo Bonucci was sent off for two bookings, the second for an elbow on Sergio Busquets.
They looked dead and buried until Lorenzo Pellegrini’s late goal after a wonderful Federico Chiesa run on a counter-attack – but could not find an unmerited equaliser.
Spain also handed 17-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi a start, making him the youngest international in their history – less than six weeks after his club debut – and he looked at home on this stage.
This also marks the first time Italy have lost a competitive game in their homeland since 1999.
Courtesy of his brace, Torres becomes one of Spain’s star men in the past year or so. This was his 11th international goal since 1 September 2020. Nobody else has scored more than five.
The Manchester City forward was clinical, with six of his last seven shots on target for Spain ending in a goal. He only had two shots in this game.
His first was a lovely volley – at a difficult height – and his second a header back across goal, both from Oyarzabal balls into the box.
He was replaced early in the second half by teenage debutant Yeremi Pino, presumably with a knock.
But the game was done by that stage, especially with Italy down to 10 men. Roberto Mancini brought on veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini for attacker Federico Bernardeschi at half-time as the hosts looked for some damage limitation.
With lack of attacking 8impetus, the Azurri only had one shot in the second half – when Chiesa ran from his own half after Spain committed men forward and unselfishly squared for substitute Pellegrini.
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