Spain could not conjure any more shootout magic on Tuesday, falling 4-2 on penalties to Italy in an intense EURO 2020 semifinal at Wembley Stadium.
Koke was named in Luis Enrique’s 11 once more, and Marcos Llorente entered the fray late in normal time as Spain fought back from a goal down to force extra time for the third straight game. But La Roja were unable to make tremendous pressure count, and Italy steered the game to spot kicks. Jorginho slotted the winning penalty on the Azzurri’s fifth try, and Roberto Mancini’s men will play either Denmark or England in Saturday’s final.
This result leaves Kieran Trippier as Atlético Madrid’s sole remaining representative at EURO 2020.
Italy started much stronger than Spain and broke their high press on a few occasions in the early going. Unai Simón’s wandering ways nearly cost Spain in the 20th minute, when several Italian attackers had sight of an open goal but none could get a shot away — César Azpilicueta and Sergio Busquets were monstrous in preventing the opening goal.
Spain controlled the ball — at one point, ringing up 72 percent of possession — and began to dominate in midfield late in the first half. After an hour, it felt only a matter of time before Luis Enrique’s men would get the opener — Italy were overwhelmed.
But the Azzurri had an outlet on the counterattack, and a roll of the ball from Gianluigi Donnarumma kicked off the move that culminated in Federico Chiesa’s excellent goal into the bottom corner. Italy had the advantage, and Luis Enrique made three swift changes to reassert control — including removing Koke for former teammate Rodri, moments after Atlético’s captain had lofted a ball into the penalty area for Mikel Oyarzabal, who could only nod the ball out of play.
This time, the changes worked. Dani Olmo slid a gorgeous through ball into Morata’s path, and the Juventus forward (by way of Atlético) became Spain’s all-time leading scorer at the Euros with his deft, left-footed finish. With Italy’s momentum gone and physical level falling off, Luis Enrique repeated a strategy from the Switzerland game, throwing on Marcos Llorente to run at tired opposition in extra time.
Italy had steadily worn down in the second half and Spain continued to control the play during the additional half hour. In the end, Spain rang up 70 percent possession over the 120 minutes and attempted 908 passes to Italy’s 387. Mancini’s men — dazzling in attack for the entire tournament to this point — managed only seven shots. Goalscorer Chiesa managed two.
As football is a cruel sport, the shootout saw Olmo sky his spot kick and Morata roll his into Donnarumma’s arms, their redemption stories not quite fully-told. Jorginho stepped up, hopped, and sent Simón the wrong way with a gentle attempt to send Spain home after a better-than-expected run in this competition.
Koke misplaced only three of his 52 attempted passes and made two tackles to go along with his two key passes. Llorente completed each one of his 22 passes and had a shot blocked in extra time.
ITA XI Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Emerson (Tolói 73’); Verratti (Pessina 73’), Jorginho, Barella (Locatelli 84’); Chiesa (Bernardeschi 107’), Insigne (Belotti 84’), Immobile (Berardi 61’).
Goal Chiesa 60’
ESP XI Simón; Azpilicueta (Llorente 84’), Laporte, Eric García (Pau Torres 109’), Alba; Koke (Rodri 69’), Busquets (Thiago 105’), Pedri; Oyarzabal (Gerard 69’), Ferrán Torres (Morata 61’), Olmo.
Goal Morata 80’