Attacking Italy send Spain crashing out

Against all pre-match predictions, Italy took the game to Spain and were rewarded with a 2-0 win at the Stade de France and a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

  • Italy 2 Spain 0
  • Italy attack early on
  • Chiellini grabs the lead
  • Pique misses late chance
  • Pelle guarantees the win

Match Summary

Italy surprised everyone, most of all the defending champions, with some attractive attacking play early on and were rewarded in the 33rd minute when Giorgio Chiellini was able to scramble the ball into the goal and give them the lead.

Italy backed off in the second half, allowing Spain back into the game but, as they have proved time and again at the Euros, their defence is more than a match for anyone and it was Graziano Pelle who was able to grab a goal on the counter attack to secure their passage to the quarter-finals.

Full Report

The Italian defence is approaching legendary status at this year’s European Championship and many believed any success they might have against the Spanish would be centered around strong defensive work, but coach Antonio Conte had other ideas.

Italy went against all pre-match predictions and were very attacking in the early stages.

Pelle tested David de Gea early on with a neat header towards the bottom corner, but the Spanish goalkeeper got down well to push the ball around the post.

Mattia De Sciglio then drifted a cross in for Marco Parolo, who arrived late into the box but couldn’t hit the target despite being completely unmarked.

The chances kept coming for Italy as the Spanish midfield seemed utterly dumbfounded that the Azzurri were able to practically run rings around them, another dangerous cross from De Sciglio nearly forcing Sergio Ramos to slice a clearance into his own net, only for it to go just wide.

Ramos then took one gamble too many as he upended Leonardo Bonucci with a clumsy challenge. Eder went direct and hit a low drive that was saved by De Gea but, after a brief goalmouth scramble, Chiellini was able to bundle the ball into the goal to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

To their credit, the Italians did not immediately sit back on their lead and even created numerous chances to extend their advantage.

Seconds before half time, Emanuele Giaccherini cut in off the left wing before unleashing a fierce shot towards the far top corner, but he was denied by another fantastic save from De Gea.

Spain went close shortly after the break as Alvaro Morata was left completely unmarked on the edge of the six yard box, but he was inexplicably unable to direct his free header on target.

Then Italy should have been two up after Pelle flicked the ball on to play Eder through on goal, but he was unable to beat De Gea in the one-on-one and Spain, once again, had their keeper to thank for still being within touching distance of their opponents.

With about 25 minutes to go, the Italians took their foot of the gas, seemingly making the decision to back off and protect their lead, but all it did was allow the Spanish back into the game.

Aritz Aduriz fired a warning shot, curling an attempt just wide of the far post before Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique both had blistering long-range attempts saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Spain’s biggest chance fell to Pique after a hopeful long ball from De Gea was headed into his patch by an Italian defender, but his toe poke was brilliantly saved by Buffon.

Italy guaranteed their progress to the final eight with a late goal from Pelle as the striker found himself all alone in the Spain box with the ball bouncing towards him, allowing him to volley it powerfully past the helpless De Gea to secure the famous 2-0 win.

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