Georgio Chiellini scored a rare defensive goal, Andres Iniesta was nutmegged, and Italy continued to surprise at EURO 2016 by ending Spain’s hopes of a threepeat.
Why tournament powers Italy was overlooked is another debate altogether, but by the time Daniele de Rossi slipped a ball between Iniesta’s legs it was clear: Gli Azzurri are going to be as tough an out as anyone.
Chiellini’s first half goal off a scrum lifted Italy to the win, and Graziano Pelle added an insurance goal in stoppage time of a 2-0 win in Saint-Denis. Gianluigi Buffon was terrific as usual for Italy, especially on a last-minute save on Gerard Pique.
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Italy got a measure of revenge on the team that kicked them out of consecutive EURO tournaments, and Germany’s up next.
David De Gea made a fantastic, firing low and to his left to slap away a strong header from Graziano Pelle following a Alessandro Florenzi cross.
The Spanish back line left De Gea out to try on Italy’s opener, as the keeper parried Eder‘s free kick and Chiellini was one of a host of Italy players broke through.
Gerard Pique avoided a yellow card, actually any foul call, on a tackle around the hour mark, and Italy nearly made it 2-0 moments later when De Gea was caught out of position on an Italy counter. The Spanish back line broke it up.
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If you’re wondering where the write-up on Spanish chances is, take a peak below at the graphic posted by Squawka with about 25 minutes left in the second half.
DE GEA! pic.twitter.com/oC7odlDRaY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 27, 2016
When Spain was able to test the Italians, like Iniesta’s 76th minute volley and Pique’s 77th minute blast, the inimitable Gianluigi Buffon was at the ready to keep order.
Future Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had orchestrated the Italian defense in a manner fitting of ousting a champion.