SOCCER

Italy Beats Spain On Penalties, Reaches Euro 2020 Final

Jul 6, 2021, 6:02 PM
Jorginho of Italy celebrates scoring their sides winning penalty in the penalty shoot out during th...
Jorginho of Italy celebrates scoring their sides winning penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium on July 06, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — Facing a wall of nervous blue-and-white clad Italy fans behind the goal, Jorginho took his trademark hop and skip before calmly stroking in the winning penalty.

So much for the pressure of a shootout in the European Championship semifinals.

A dash of Italian panache completed a 4-2 penalty-shootout win over Spain at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, setting up a title match against either England or Denmark back at the same stadium on Sunday.

The match finished 1-1 after extra time and provided Italy with its toughest test of the tournament, with Spain controlling possession for long periods. Federico Chiesa scored for Italy with a curling shot in the 60th minute but substitute Alvaro Morata equalized for Spain in the 80th.

Morata, dropped from the starting lineup for the first time in a tournament during which he has received verbal abuse and even death threats from his own fans, will go down as Spain’s scapegoat once again after having a penalty saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the next-to-last kick of the shootout.

As he walked back to the center circle with his head bowed, Jorginho made the opposite journey and didn’t make the same mistake.

The Chelsea midfielder has his own style when it comes to taking penalties and he didn’t abandon it when it mattered most, sparking a throng of celebrations as Italy’s players sprinted from the halfway line.

Jorginho was mobbed. Italy coach Roberto Mancini was hugged by the rest of coaching staff. The players lined up on the edge of the area and ran together, holding hands, toward the fans.

Leonardo Bonucci went further, leaping over the advertising hoardings to get even closer to the crazed supporters whose loud cheering had lifted the team in their most difficult moments.

“We’re delighted we could provide this wonderful entertainment to the Italian people,” Mancini said. “One game to go.”

Riding a national record unbeaten run of 33 games, Italy will play in its fourth European final and look to win the title for a second time, after 1968.

It’s quite the redemption story for a country which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“This group is amazing,” Mancini said. “Everyone wants to win, but this group of players wanted to do something special.”

They have had the aura of champions since Day 1 of the tournament and they’ll be sticking around until the last day, too. But it’s at the home of English soccer where the team has had its toughest matches.

Against Austria in the round of 16, the Italians were taken to extra time at Wembley and they had to go the distance, too, against Spain.

Spain’s striker-free formation initially flummoxed the Azzurri, who have become a more progressive team under Mancini but were given a clinic at times in ball possession and movement in midfield.

Experienced center backs Giorgio Chiellini and Bonucci looked uncertain at times, not knowing whether to drop back or follow deep-lying forward Dani Olmo — who started ahead of Morata — into the center of midfield.

Spain’s pressing also drew some rash clearances from the back from Italy. That created the team’s best chance in the first half with Ferran Torres’ shot requiring a low save from Donnarumma.

The Italians had even more problems when Morata came on as a substitute but, by then, Chiesa had put them ahead after latching onto a loose ball, cutting inside and curling a shot into the far corner. It was his second goal at Wembley in this tournament, having scored just as impressively against Austria.

Morata’s movement stretched Italy’s defense to set up chances for Mikel Oyarzabal and Olmo. Then he scored for the third time at Euro 2020.

For a player often accused of wasting chances when he has too much time in front of goal, Morata showed calmness to sidefoot in a left-footed shot after exchanging passes with Olmo at the edge of the area.

Morata grabbed a camera behind the goal and thrust his face into it. But he had nowhere to hide after becoming the second Spain player to miss in the shootout — after Olmo — following 30 minutes of extra time.

“He really has a lot of personality,” Spain coach Luis Enrique said of Morata. “He wanted to take a penalty even though he’s been through some tough times in this competition.”

Italy started the shootout with Manuel Locatelli’s shot saved by Unai Simon, but Andrea Belotti, Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi all scored before Jorginho.

Spain, a three-time European champion, beat Switzerland in a penalty shootout just to get to Wembley. Having also been taken to extra time by Croatia in the last 16, the Spanish certainly took the long route to the semifinals but their journey ended there.

“Everyone made Italy big favorites,” Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets said, “but we demonstrated we were superior to them.”

Soccer

NWSL logo Utah Royals...
Chandler Holt

Report: NWSL To Expand By Three Teams With One In Utah

The National Women's Soccer League is discussing a three-team expansion. The three teams will be located in San Francisco, Boston, and Utah.
8 days ago
Jefferson-Savarino-Real-Salt-Lake...
Tom Hackett

Real Salt Lake Front Office Still With Plenty Of Work Remaining

What should Real Salt Lake fans expect in year two of the David Blitzer and Ryan Smith reign? And where does the club need more depth?!
9 days ago
Javier-Morales-fights-for-ball-against-Monterrey-player-in-2011-champions-league-final...
Tom Hackett

Real Salt Lake Draws Concacaf Giants In Leagues Cup

Real Salt Lake has been placed in a Leagues Cup group alongside Liga MX giants Monterrey FC and MLS foe Seattle Sounders.
15 days ago
Diego-Luna-Real-Salt-Lake-During-Game...
Tom Hackett

Real Salt Lake’s Diego Luna Called Into U.S. Under 20 Side

Real Salt Lake's Diego Luna has been called into the United States Under-20 training camp, the club announced. 
16 days ago
America-First-Field-Real-Salt-Lake...
Tom Hackett

Real Salt Lake Signs Gomez, Breaks Club Record Transfer Fee

Real Salt Lake has acquired winger Carlos Andrés Gómez from Colombian powerhouse Millonarios FC, the club has confirmed. 
25 days ago
Pablo Mastroeni - Watches - against- san jose...
Tom Hackett

Real Salt Lake Signs Homegrown Pair To First Team Roster

Real Salt Lake has announced the Homegrown signings of defenders Luis Rivera and Delentz Pierre to the 2023 first-team roster. 
29 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
jimmy-buffett-tour-art...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Italy Beats Spain On Penalties, Reaches Euro 2020 Final