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Euro 2024: Spain edge Italy 1-0 to seal round of 16 spot

Gelsenkirchen (Germany), June 21 2024-

Spain claimed first place in Euro 2024 Group B, and a spot in the round of 16, with a narrow 1-0 but dominant win over Italy late on Thursday night (as per IST) at the Arena AufSchalke, thanks to Riccardo Calafiori’s own goal early in the second half.

Italy faced an early scare when Nico Williams’ skillful play on the left wing set up a header for Pedri. However, Gianluigi Donnarumma made a spectacular save, tipping the ball over the bar.

Williams himself missed an even better opportunity in the tenth minute, sending a header wide while unmarked in front of goal. Spain continued to press, forcing Donnarumma into action again to block Alvaro Morata’s angled shot. The Italian keeper then made a quick dive to his left to tip over a long-range effort from Fabián Ruiz, who later had another shot blocked by Alessandro Bastoni.

Aside from a couple of characteristic forays down the left by Federico Dimarco, Italy struggled to penetrate the Spain penalty area. In response, Luciano Spalletti brought on Bryan Cristante and Andrea Cambiaso at halftime. However, this did not stop Spain’s relentless attacks. Pedri nearly broke the deadlock again, but he fired a gilt-edged chance wide from Marc Cucurella’s cross, Euro 2024 reports.

Finally, the breakthrough arrived, although from an unexpected source. It was no surprise that the move originated down the Spain left with Williams, however, his cross flicked on by Morata; Donnarumma could only get fingertips to the header and the ball rebounded in off Calafiori.

The goalkeeper tipped over another Morata effort, and Cambiaso cleared off the line moments later. Lamine Yamal curled just wide, while Williams hit the crossbar from the corner of the area.

Italy’s late push saw Cristante’s flick easily gathered by Unai Simon. Spain nearly extended their lead in stoppage time, but Donnarumma denied Ayoze Perez twice. Ultimately, Spain secured their place in the round of 16.

“This was our best performance since I became coach. We played well against Italy in the [2022/23] Nations League, but I think this was a more complete performance. I’m very proud of the result and the way in which we won this match, but it’s a very challenging tournament. We were superior across the board. I have so much respect for Italy; they had some difficulties tonight, but part of that is because we played so well,” Italy head coach Luis de la Fuente was quoted by UEFA. (Agency)

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