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Italy and Spain faced off in the first semi-final at Euro 2020 at Wembley. The Azzurri held on for a nervy win against Belgium while La Roja needed penalties to see off Switzerland.

The match started in an even manner, with Spain enjoying most of the possession without posing too much of a threat. Italy were being pegged back as Spain looked to get forward at every opportunity.

The Azzurri should have done better when Unai Simon rushed off his line without getting the ball but they failed to get a shot away. At the other end, Dani Olmo tested Donnarumma with a good, low shot that was well kept out.



Italy slowly were growing into the game but they were struggling to link up as fluidly as they normally do. Both teams battled hard to win the midfield battle but the game was slowed down by niggly fouls. Spain were marginally on top as the halftime whistle went though this was still anybody’s game.



The second half started in a fast fashion, with Busquets’ shot shaving the roof of the net. For Italy, Chiesa tested Unai Simon with a low effort that was comfortably held. However, Spain were looking the more dangerous now with the front three combining better than the first half. That did not last for long as Italy took the lead against the run of play.

Donnarumma set them out on a fast break with Insigne’s pass being cleared out only as far as Chiesa. The attacker took a touch before curling the ball into the net with Simon left rooted to the spot.



Roberto Mancini’s side were now on the charge, with Berardi shooting straight at Simon from a tight angle. That came after Oyarzabal had missed a fine chance to draw level. Italy were now starting to get forward more and more, as Spain were looking desperately for a leveller. Luis Enrique brought on Morata and Moreno to freshen things up and it was the former who came up trumps.

After some neat holdup play, Morata was slipped through by Olmo with the Juventus striker slotting the ball past a wrongfooted Donnarumma to make it 1-1.



The game settled down once again in the middle of the pitch, with neither team wanting to commit an error. As the clock ticked down, and a whole host of substitutions being made, extra time beckoned as the 90 minutes finished.

The extra period began at a slower pace naturally, with both teams cautiously looking to prod forward. Olmo’s free-kick was pushed away by Donnarumma in the best chance of the first 15 minutes.



Italy started the final 15 minutes in a more positive fashion, with Berardi’s finish after five minutes ruled out for offside. The rest of the period was spent in the middle as most of the game had been. Spain were happy to boss possession, Italy happy to remain compact and watchful. It all came down to penalties to separate the two sides at the end of 120 minutes.



The penalty shootout opened with a pair of misses from Locatelli and Olmo. From the subsequent scorers, Morata was the lone man to miss. That set up Jorginho to finish the game which he did in his trademark fashion of slotting the spot-kick away. Italy were on their way to the final at the same stadium as Spain were left to rue their missing clinical nature.



Here are the three key takeaways from the match:



The Azzurri did not get off to the best of starts with Spain very much taking the game to them. That first half could have ended with Italy being behind but a combination of poor finishing and stout defending saw them through on level terms.

Despite the fact that they had been on the back foot for so long, it did not look like they would be conceding anytime soon unless something special happened. The second period saw them assert themselves much more, looking to finally find a breakthrough.



It arrived in rather fortuitous circumstances with Laporte’s clearance falling straight to Chiesa who came up with a sumptuous finish. That had been their strength for much of the tournament, able to withstand adversity before winning matches.

However, their defence was eventually breached by Morata to draw level and bring on extra time. Even that failed to separate the two with the game heading to penalties. Jorginho’ calm finish earned the victory for the Azzurri who now are through to the final.



Spain’s attacking woes over the course of Euro 2020 have been well documented. Their forwards have just not been able to get firing, having to rely on own goals and individual mistakes to score. Their luck finally ran out in this crunch match, where they were actually dominating for most parts before the goal.

Their lack of finishing off moves hurt them as Chiesa fired the Azzurri into the lead. Enrique responded by bringing on Morata among others, who deservedly got the equalizer to send the game to extra time.



The additional 30 minutes failed to bring a winner as the match went to penalties. After an early setback for each side, Morata’s missed penalty enabled Jorginho to seal the contest with an icy cool finish for the Azzurri.



Italy have been finding ways to win no matter the circumstances. Against Austria, they dug deep and scored twice in extra time. Against Belgium, they protected their slender lead for almost 15 minutes.

Now, against Spain, though they were outclassed for much of the game, Mancini’s men were able to take the game to extra time and beyond that to penalties to win it. Surely, they are now believing firmly in themselves to win the ultimate prize. Their togetherness and compact nature will be hard to break down and defeat, no matter who of England or Denmark they face.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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