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Euro 2024: Spain 1-0 Italy – Spain outclass Italy to reach last-16

Reigning champions go down in Gelsenkirchen and now face crunch clash with Croatia

Alvaro Morata

 

Spain dominated Italy but only had a solitary goal to show for it as they secured top-spot in Group B in Gelsenkirchen.

Spain bossed the opening 45 minutes and Pedri and Nico Williams spurned fine chances to break the deadlock while Gianluigi Donnarumma was in inspired form in the Italian goal.

Nine minutes after the break Riccardo Calafiori scored an unfortunate own-goal from a Williams cross but try as they might Spain could not find a second as while Pedri missed another sitter and Williams thumped the woodwork while Donnarumma would simply not be beaten.

Italy mustered a little late pressure but now face a crunch clash with Croatia on Monday to determine who will go through to the last-16 as runners-up.

Spain dominate from the start

Pedri should have put Spain ahead inside two minutes when he was left unmarked in the middle to meet Nico Williams’ perfect cross from the left but his header was too close to Gianluigi Donnarumma who made a flying fingertip save.

Williams was giving right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo a torrid time on the left flank but himself missed a sitter from an inswinging cross from Alvaro Morata on 10 minutes, ghosting towards the back post but sending his close range header flashing past the near upright in plenty of space.

Lamine Yemal slalomed his way into the box before feeding Morata who was driven wide before seeing an angled shot blocked by the feet of Donnarumma and moments later the keeper flew to his right to tip over a rasping long-range drive from Fabian Ruiz on 25 minutes.

The Spain pressure was unrelenting and Rodri first dragged a low shot wide of target and then saw a first-time strike blocked by Alessandro Bastoni after some slick approach play.

Bastoni came to the rescue with a timely intervention to prevent Williams from latching onto a reverse pass from Pedri in the box while Fabian Ruiz whipped a first-time effort straight down the throat of Donnarumma five minutes before the break.

Italy launched a rare foray forward before the interval but after being found on the right flank by Nicolo Barella’s first time pass, Federico Chiesa drove towards the box before lashing high and wide.

More of the same for Spain

Half-time sub Bryan Cristante – on in place of Jorginho – went into the book for a lunge on Rodri within 20 seconds of the second-half kicking-off – the fastest ever booking for a sub at a European Championships.

Pedri spurned another glorious chance when Marc Cucurella cut back from the left byline only for the Barcelona man to side-foot past the near post with the goal at his mercy.

Pedri then fired straight at Donnarumma from distance but the deadlock was broken moments later when Williams danced to the byline and fired in a cross which glanced off Morata’s head and flicked the palm of Donnarumma, only diverting the ball into the knee of Calafiori who could not avoid turning the ball into his own net from close range.

Morata stung the palms of Donnarumma as the onslaught continued and Andrea Cambiasso had to hook a header from Robin Le Normand off the line before 16-year-old Yamal curled narrowly wide from 25 yards.

A rare Italian break saw Cristante flash a cross low across the face of goal but normal service resumed as Williams whipped a curling effort from the corner of the area which cannoned off the angle of post and bar with Donnarumma well beaten.

Inside the final 20 minutes Lorenzo Pellegrini floated a 25-yard free-kick over the crossbar, failin to trouble Unai Simon, who was largely a spectator throughout.

Aymeric Laporte – who was a fitness doubt before kick-off – nodded over an Alex Baena corner as Spain sought to put the result beyond doubt.

Their inability to put the game to bed saw Italy piling on some late pressure with Cristante’s near-post flick from a corner being held by Unai Simon on 86 minutes.

Ayoze Perez was the last to be denied by Donnarumma after firstly tricking his way into the box and moments later latching onto a through-ball, but the keeper produced two fine low stops to deny him in a surely universal man of the match performance, though his attempt to score a dramatic equaliser at the other end from a stoppage-time corner was unsuccessful.

Spain face Albania in Dusseldorf while Italy face Croatia in a winner-takes-all clash for runners-up spot in Leipzig on Monday night.

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.

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