Italy defeated Spain 1-1 (4-2 on penalties) on Tuesday night to advance to the EURO 2020 final on Sunday at Wembley.
It’s the Azzurri’s first trip to the final since 2012.
Italy will now meet the winner of tomorrow’s other semi-final between England and Denmark.
The question heading into Tuesday’s match was what would give in the possession battle between the two teams. Both La Roja and Azzurri had enjoyed a majority of possession in their matches, thus far, at EURO 2020. It was Spain that won that battle, but Luis Enrique’s side couldn’t make much with their nearly 70 per cent possession for much of the match.
In the first half, Spain dictated the tempo, but had little to show for it. Ferran Torres came close in the 14th after pouncing on a Nicolo Barella turnover, but pulled his shot wide. Then, in the 26th, Gianluigi Donnarumma’s clearance was poor and fell to Eric Garcia just outside of the area. Back into the box, the ball fell to Dani Olmo, who forced a fine save from Donnarumma.
Emerson Palmieri thought he had the game’s first goal, but his effort pinged off of the crossbar.
The second half saw the game open up a little more. In the 52nd, Mikel Oyarzabal set up captain Sergio Busquets for a crack on goal, but his effort buzzed the crossbar before the Azzurri came back the other way and Chiesa’s low effort was stopped by Unai Simon.
In the 60th, Italy hit on the counter. Marco Verratti came down the left side and fed it into the area. Aymeric Laporte initially had it dealt with, but Chiesa jumped on the loose ball and beat Simon with an unstoppable strike for a beautiful opener.
La Roja almost found an equalizer in the 64th. Koke’s fine chip found Oyarzabal behind the Italy defence, but he got his header all wrong and wasted a fine chance.
But Spain wouldn’t be denied and it would be Alvaro Morata, who did the job. The much maligned striker was dropped from Enrique’s starting XI for the match and came on as a 62nd-minute substitute for Torres.
Morata started a run up the middle and dropped off a pass for Olmo before continuing his run.
Olmo played Morata in with a fine through ball and Morata did the rest with a confident left-footed drive past Donnarumma for his third goal of the tournament.
Ninety minutes solved nothing and it was off to extra time for a third straight game for La Roja.
In extra time, Domenico Berardi beat Simon and put the ball in the back of the net midway through the second half of the extra period, but he was well offside.