After a 1-1 draw in the semi-final, Italy defeated Spain 4-2 on penalties in a spectacular Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley on Tuesday, with Jorginho converting the game-winning penalty to send the Azzurri through to the final in a tournament in which they have been the standout team.
However, they were not constantly on top in this game. For lengthy stretches of an incredible battle, Spain had the upper hand, but Italy took the lead an hour in when Federico Chiesa, a Juventus forward, scored a spectacular goal.
With 10 minutes of normal time remaining, the much-maligned Alvaro Morata, who had been withdrawn from the starting line-up, came off the bench to equalize. Spain, who had overcome Switzerland in a shoot-out in the quarter-finals, had to go to penalties again after no further scoring in extra time.
Spain had previously defeated Italy on penalties at Euro 2008, but mistakes from Dani Olmo and then Alvaro Morata saw them surrender the lead they had gained when Manuel Locatelli missed the opening kick in the shoot-out.
With both the sides lined up in a similar setup with the 4-3-3 formation, they didn’t make any changes to their approach from a tactical standpoint. However, both the managers made some personnel changes in their starting lineup from the previous games. Italy, who lost Leonardo Spinnazola to an injury against Belgium, had to deploy Emerson in his spot. With Spain, it was Alvaro Morata who was benched for the game. Mikel Oyarzabal started in his place.
The Italians celebrated with a big number of their UK-based fans at the final whistle, and a team that has been revitalized under Roberto Mancini continues to dream of winning their first European Championship since 1968.
They go to Sunday’s final, when they will face either England or Denmark, who will meet in Wednesday’s second last-four tie. It had been nine years since Spain thrashed Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev to win a third consecutive major tournament, and this was the fourth European Championship in which these two giants had faced.