Tactical Masterclass from Italy knockout defending champion
A brilliant display by Antonio Conte's team carried them through to a quarter-final with Germany, dismantling champions Spain at Saint-Denis.
Italy brought to an emphatic end Spain's eight-year reign as UEFA European champions and avenged their 4-0 defeat in the final four years ago, as goals by Giorgio Chiellini and Graciano Pelle earned them a semi-final meeting with Germany next Saturday.
In doing so, Antonio Conte’s team sounded a warning: they will take some stopping on this evidence. But for Spain’s goalkeeper, David de Gea, this could have been a rout, Kyiv in reverse.
Chiellini’s bundled finish opened the scoring on 33 minutes, De Gea having kept out Éder’s free-kick and Emanuele Giaccherini’s follow-up.
Italy had dominated from the off. De Gea was at his agile best to keep out Graziano Pellè’s early header and again to turn Giaccherini’s overhead kick on to a post, although a foul had been given.
Marco Parolo headed wide and Sergio Ramos shanked one over the bar from Mattia De Sciglio’s menacing low cross.
Spain mixed things up after the break as Andrés Iniesta grew in influence, but still there were chances for Italy, notably when De Gea saved from Éder.
Álvaro Morata, Ramos and Iniesta, with a stinging volley, threatened for Spain, but it was Pelle who had the final say, finishing from close range after a fluid Italy counterattack involving and Lorenzo Insigne.
Man of the match: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
The Juventus man was oustanding, keeping his old team-mate Morata so quiet he was eventually replaced. Morata, remember, had scored five in his previous four games.
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Report courtesy to UEFA Euro Release
Published: Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:58 PM IST