After 120 minutes of excruciating football failed to separate the two teams, Italy defeated Spain 4-2 on penalties in the Euro 2020 semifinal on Tuesday to secure a spot in the grand finale of the European tournament. Forward Alvaro Morata failed to convert from the spot in the crucial penultimate penalty.
The first half of the game unfolded as a boxing match, where both the teams exchanged brisk blows without even attempting to go for the kill shot. However, Spain seemed to enjoy all the possession without ever actually threatening the Italian defense. Only of the five shots that the Spanish armada attempted was on target.
Although the second half started off without any abrupt shift in momentum, it was Italy who drew first blood when Federico Chiesa latched on to a loose ball and placed it past Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon with a curling shot at the 60-minute mark.
Completely against the run of play, Spain were taken aback by the goal, however, they weren't ready to give up. Manager Luis Enrique made three reactionary substitutions. He brought on forward Morata, who was surprisingly missing from the starting lineup.
The Juventus striker, hoping to make his mark, initiated a counter-attack in the second half after winning the ball in the opposition half.
He played a quick one-two with RB Leipzig winger Dani Olmo, who beautiful set up Morata, and the Spaniard did not miss. Morata tucked home at the 80th minute to bring Spain level.
The game rolled into thirty minutes of extra time with teams looking evidently jaded. Although Spain had more of the initiative, they opted to take no risk. For both Italy and Spain the penalties couldn't have come sooner.
Albeit a game of coin toss, Italy showed way more nerves in the penalty shootout. After both teams squandered their first shots, Azzurri made sure to capitalise on all the following chances.
And as luck would have it, keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the shot from Morata, who had could've been the hero for Spain after equalising.
In stepped Jorginho, reliant as he always is, calmly duped Simon and tucked home the winning penalty.
With that victory, Italy have now secured a berth in the final, their first in a major tournament since Euro 2012 when they had agonizingly lost to the same opponent.