Football 1 year ago

Italy unchain their defensive hearts

  • Italy unchain their defensive hearts

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 27: Graziano Pelle (obscured) of Italy celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mates during the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match between Italy and Spain at Stade de France on June 27, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Italy broke a 22-year hoodoo to end Spain's bid for a record third successive European title with a deserved 2-0 win over familiar foes in an absorbing last 16 clash between the two heavyweights at Euro 2016 on Monday.

Italy triumphed with goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle and will face Germany in the quarter-finals.

The Italians, who had not won a competitive match against Spain since the 1994 World Cup and were humiliated 4-0 by their old rivals in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev, were the better side, especially in the first half, on a damp evening.

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Italy, who were better organised and more aggressive before the break, had wasted several chances when defender Chiellini put them ahead after 33 minutes, following up to tap in after goalkeeper David De Gea failed to block Eder's free kick.

The Italians suffered in the second half and had been resisting sustained Spanish pressure when striker Pelle connected with a Matteo Darmian cross to volley home from close range, doubling their advantage in added time.

Spain's defeat marked the end of an era for a side who had established themselves as the dominant force in Europe by winning the European Championship in 2008, after knocking out Italy in the quarter-finals, and repeated the success in 2012.

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