ITALY’S THREE YEARS UNBEATEN RECORD COMES TO AN END AS SPAIN ADVANCES TO NATIONS LEAGUE FINAL.
Photo credit : goal.com
By Chima Azu
The Spanish side will either play France or Belgium in the finals after defeating Italy in the first semi-final in their own backyard in Milan by 2 goals to 1 to avenge their loss in the Euros semis just few months ago in Wembley with both goals coming from Ferran Torres. Leonardo Bonucci got sent off for a second bookable offence after he elbowed Sergio Busquet to get his matching orders. This is Mancini’s first defeat in 37 games which has lasted over three years and losing on their home turf leaves a bitter taste after such fine run of form.
First fifteen minutes was all out attack from both sides and Spain came close to scoring with Sarabia’s shot being blocked. The deadlock was broken in the sixteenth minute, when Oyarzarbal’s cross was tapped in by Torres to give Spain the lead. Immediately after that Donnarumma spilled a shot by Alonso and that left the Italians rattled.
Spain were in cruise control after the goal and kept possession in their typical fashion, both sides kept playing a high press and their were some rough tackles from both teams. Later on in the first half, Emerson found Insigne in the box with a perfect cross but he shot wide surprisingly with the goal at his mercy. Bonucci got sent off few minutes before the end of the first half and the Manchester city man doubled their lead in added time with a fine header into the bottom corner which was the last action of the first half.
Chiesa came close on the hour mark in the second half by hitting the woodwork but he was later flagged offside. The extra man began to payoff and Spain kept possession which also led to them creating a chance where Marcos Alonso forced the PSG keeper to make a good save. In the last ten minutes, Chiesa stole the ball from Pau in his own half and ran straight into the Spanish box to setup an assist for Pellegrini to give Italy a lifeline.
Italy pushed for an equalizer with 10 men but Spain controlled the game in the last couple of minutes by keeping the ball remarkably to advance into Sunday’s finals which will be held in San Siro either to face France or Belgium.