Coach Luis de la Fuente’s side will now face Croatia in the final showdown on Sunday in Rotterdam, seeking redemption after their defeat to France in the final two years ago. Meanwhile, Italy will battle against the hosts Netherlands for the bronze medal.
The match started with an early advantage for Spain as they capitalised on a defensive lapse from Italy. Within three minutes, Yeremy Pino displayed composure in front of the goal and produced a cool finish to give Spain the lead.
However, Italy swiftly responded to the setback when debutant Robin Le Normand unintentionally handled the ball in the box, resulting in a penalty. Ciro Immobile seized the opportunity and converted from the spot, marking his first international goal in two years.
As the game progressed, both teams struggled to break the deadlock, and extra time seemed inevitable. However, in a twist of fate, the winning goal came in bizarre circumstances. Rodri’s powerful shot deflected off two defenders, and the ball fell kindly for Joselu, who was in the right place at the right time to poke it home from close range, sealing Spain’s place in the final.
Following the match, Joselu expressed his joy, stating, “I’m happy for my goal because we’re now into a final with a chance to win a trophy.”
The clash in Enschede mirrored the 2021 Nations League semi-final between Spain and Italy, with the game becoming a battle between Spain’s possession-based style and Italy’s ability to strike on the counter-attack.
Despite dominating possession with 61%, Spain struggled to translate their control into significant chances, a recurring challenge for the team in recent times. Their early lead came from an error by Leonardo Bonucci, who was dispossessed by Yeremy, allowing the Spanish forward to calmly slot the ball into the far corner. However, Italy swiftly equalised through Immobile’s successful penalty, awarded after Le Normand’s handball.
The match entered a tense stalemate in the final 20 minutes as both teams searched for a breakthrough. Ultimately, Joselu’s timely intervention secured Spain’s place in the final, where they will face Croatia, a team they defeated 5-3 after extra time in the last 16 of the Euro 2020 finals.
Reflecting on the match, Italy coach Roberto Mancini conceded that Spain deserved the victory, acknowledging, “Spain deserved it, even if they only found the goal right near the end. We set up slightly differently, but we couldn’t do much in the second half,” in an interview with RAI.
(With inputs from Reuters)