Euro 2024: Spain Qualify for Knockout Stages with win over Italy

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Spain secured their spot in the last 16 of Euro 2024 with a scintilating performance against defending champions Italy in Gelsenkirchen.

They created countless chances and were utterly dominant but won by a narrow scoreline thanks to an own goal by Riccardo Calafiori in the second half.

After being kept at bay by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma for almost an hour, Alvaro Morata’s flick-on was poked in by the knee of the unfortunate Calafiori.

There was no response from Italy, who were comfortably second best, despite playing their part in a captivating match.

Two European giants meeting in the group stage of the tournament meant there were high hopes and it lived up to its billing with an electric opening half.

Spain were the ones delivering most of the eye-catching stuff, moving the ball around beautifully with intensity and creativity, while Italy succeeded in keeping them out – but only just.

They had Donnarumma to thank as he made three excellent saves, tipping over Pedri’s header in the first two minutes, before later denying Fabian Ruiz and Morata.

Spain’s Nico Williams should have scored when he headed wide, then struck the crossbar, but he put in an impressive display alongside teenage sensation Lamine Yamal, 16, who played with freedom, curling an effort narrowly wide later on.

Italy had just three touches in the opposition box in the first half and not a single shot on target, and did not up their game after the break.

There were glimpses of a threat on the counter-attack but it was Spain who continued to rack up the chances – Pedri and Morata coming close again as they cruised into the last 16 with two wins from two matches, having not conceded.

Italy still have a chance of progressing. They face Croatia on Monday – a nation that has finished in the top three of the past two World Cups – while Spain take on Albania.

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