In what was dubbed one of the biggest games in the tournament so far, Italy beat Spain 2-0 to knock the holders out of the competition. Thanks to a brilliant performance from the Italians.
Chiellini (33), Pellè (90+1)
This is how the teams lined up
Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli, De Sciglio, Giaccherini, De Rossi, Parolo, Florenzi, Eder, Pellè
De Gea, Alba, Ramos, Pique, Juanfran, Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas, Nolito, Morata, Silva
It was a game in which Italy deserved to go through and if it wasn’t David De Gea the Spanish goalkeeper, the Italians may have been out of sight and scored more goals.
Here is a summary of the key moments from the game.
Italy started the brighter of the two teams and in the 8th minute of the game, they had a great chance to the take the lead. A free kick from Alessandro Florenzi was meet by Graziano Pelle who directed a powerful header towards goal, but David De Gea made a brilliant save to turn it behind for a corner.
Two minutes later Italy had another great chance to take the lead, Florenzi sent a ball into the box. The ball found it way to Emanuele Giaccherini who connected with a spectacular overhead kick, but De Gea made another great save. He tipped the ball onto the post, but it would not have counted as the referee gave a free kick to Spain for a high boot.
Spain tried to get themselves into the game and in the 19th mintue, Cesc Fabregas had a shot blocked after a pass from Celta Vigo winger Nolito
Italy though were looking threatening and they had a decent chance in the 24th minute to make it 2-0, when a cross from Mattia De Sciglio found Marco Parolo. Who could only head wide after making a late run into the box.
Spain were still trying to get their noses in front. On 27 minutes Nolito’s corner found Andres Iniesta whose shot was straight at Gianluigi Buffon the Italian goalkeeper.
A minute later Italy almost went in front, De Sciglio sent a low cross into the penalty area and Spanish centre back Sergio Ramos almost turned the ball into his own net. Ramos did however manage to turn the ball away for a corner.
However on the 33rd minute Italy finally got the breakthrough, a free kick from Eder on the edge of the box was saved from De Gea. However he could only parry it into the path of Giorgio Chiellini, who turned the ball home to gave Italy the lead. Italy 1-0 Spain.
Italy almost made it 2-0 on 44 minutes when Pellè passed the ball to Giaccherini. He then unleashed a powerful shot at goal, but De Gea made a sensational save to turn the ball away for a corner.
Half time Italy 1-0 Spain
Spain came out trying to get an equaliser. Spanish striker Alvaro Morata had a free header from just outside the six yard box, but could only guide the ball into the arms of Buffon.
Fabregas then had an effort three minutes later, but his shot sailed over Buffon’s crossbar.
Then Italy had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 on 56 minutes, Pellè flick the ball Eder who raced away from Ramos. Eder found himself one on one with De Gea, but the goalkeeper made a superb block to keep the score at 1-0.
Italy then had another great chance to make 2-0 on 61 minutes, De Sciglio put a low cross into the box. But there was no one there to turn it home and Spain cleared the ball away after a brief scramble in the box.
Spain were still a threat and they had a decent chance to equalise on 70 minutes. Fabregas’ pass found substitute Aritiz Aduriz whose first time shot curled past Buffon’s far post.
A minute or two later Spain had a corner which was delivered by Fabregas. The ball found Ramos, but he could only head over the bar. Better from Spain.
Spain were now pressing for an equaliser, substitute Lucas Vazquez sent a ball over to Iniesta whose first time volley was push away by Buffon for a corner.
A minute later Spanish centre back Gerard Pique struck a powerful effort. However Buffon was equal to it and the ball was cleared.
Italy were a threat on the break and were looking for a goal that would seal victory. With five minutes remaining, substitute Lorenzo Insigne had a shot that was saved by De Gea after running from the halfway line with the ball.
On the 90 minute mark Spain almost forced extra time, by nearly getting an equalising goal. De Gea’s long ball was headed into Pique’s path by Italian defender Andrea Barzagli. Pique volleyed the ball towards goal, but Buffon the Italian goalkeeper made an incredible instinctive save to keep it out.
Italy then made their spot in the quarter finals safe with a second goal in the first minute of added on time. A long pass found substitute Matteo Darmian, he cross the ball into the box. The ball took a deflection Ramos into the path of Pellè, who smashed the ball home with De Gea will beaten. To make it Italy 2-0 Spain.
Full time Italy 2-0 Spain
Star man – Graziano Pellè
Not only did he get the all important goal that sealed Italy’s place in the quarter finals against Germany. But his hold up play and link up play through out the game was excellent. This was shown when Pellè released Eder one on one with De Gea after a fantastic flick. When the Italians face the Germans in the quarter finals, he will make a huge difference as to whether or not Italy get through.