Euro 2020 got its epic encounter as Spain win tactical battle but Italy progress

One of the most memorable encounters of the summer gives fans the twists and emotion they craved

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Tuesday 06 July 2021 22:58 BST
Euro 2020: Daily briefing

When it arrived, wrapped in complete chef’s kiss glory with the noise generated threatening to raise the roof off Wembley, a match of the highest quality felt more whole.

Federico Chiesa didn’t know quite what to do after producing the moment that broke the deadlock during the extreme tactical warfare between Italy and Spain in the semi-finals of the European Championship.

He darted in three different directions before settling on a slick slide with arms spreading out in front of the cameras, but Chiesa was thankfully more certain with his finish.

Spain had been shading the battle, with the midfield of Koke, Sergio Busquets and the supremely talented Pedri contouring the match to their design.

The selection of Dani Olmo as a false nine was inspired, allowing Luis Enrique’s men to press rapidly, control play with him drafting in as an extra midfielder, cutting out the influence of Marco Verratti and Jorginho.

Spain were doing everything right against opponents clearly missing Leonardo Spinazzola bar creating a wealth of clear opportunities and then…

Bang! 1-0 Italy. Olmo was a nuisance on the edge of the box as Spain attacked, but Jordi Alba’s cross was intercepted by Gianluigi Donnarumma, who instigated a crafty counter.

The goalkeeper rolled possession to Verratti, who shuffled up the left and slipped a pass infield for Ciro Immobile on the periphery of the area. Aymeric Laporte applied a sliding block, but the ball was loose and quickly snuffled up by Chiesa.

He took a touch before curling a beauty into the top right, dissecting Eric Garcia and Laporte in the process to bring the noise.

An epic game of Euro 2020 football had its goal - a stunner - but greed wanted an equaliser for Spain and for the entertainment to continue.

Beyond all belief, Mikel Oyarzabal missed a sitter, Olmo flashed wide and it didn’t look like a leveller would actually materialise.

But then… bang! Italy 1-1 Spain. Alvaro Morata, the enigma dropped from the starting line-up and had stuttered with two half-chances, bagged a lovely little storyline.

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The striker drove the ball forward through the Italian defence, exchanging silky passes with Olmo before confidently side-footing into the bottom-left corner. Spain deserved that goal and, hallelujah, we had more of this spectacle and a shootout.

Unai Simon saved from Manuel Locatelli, Olmo skied his kick, Andrea Belotti lashed into the bottom left, Gerard Moreno found the top right, Leonardo Bonucci passed his in and Thiago was cool as you like.

Federico Bernardeschi’s effort was accompanied by ‘what a penalty,!’ Donnarumma saved a soft kick from Morata and Jorginho applied his little skip to slot Italy into the final.

The match we didn’t want to end sadly did. And unfortunately for Spain, there had to be a side vanquished.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in