Spain sauntered into the final of the Nations League, a fine first-half performance that featured a brace for Ferran Torres and a red card for Leonardo Bonucci ending Italy’s world-record unbeaten run at 37 games. Spain now play France or Belgium in Sunday’s final.
Though Italy were favourites and with good reason, Spain took control of the game in its early stages, ransacking the right side of the home team’s defence. On 17 minutes, Mikel Oyarzabal crossed beautifully and Ferran Torres finished in similar style, then did likewise in first-half injury-time as did Torres. In between times, Bonucci was booked twice, first for dissent then for leaping into a challenge with Sergio Busquets, forearm and elbow cocked.
Playing Spain, in a semi-final, two goals and a man down, sounds like one of the very most miserable ways to spend 45 minutes and sure enough, Spain spent the second half passing the ball and Italy spent the second half chasing the ball. Both sides had chances but Spain had more and were dominant, only for Lorenzo Pellegrini to round off a counter, tapping home an 83rd-minute livener. But Spain saw out the remaining time well enough and are back if ever they were away. It’ll take a serious performance to beat them.
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After dominating football for a generation, it was looking a lot like Spain were set for a fallow period. And who could be surprised? Players as good as Xavi, Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos do not come around often, never mind all at the same time.
But the reality remains that Spanish football played well is the hardest style to beat, and as long as Spain have players good enough to impose it, they are a problem for anyone. Without Pedri, their best player and chief schemer, they passed around Italy both before and after Bonucci was sent off and in Gavi seem to have nurtured yet another player with both talent and temperament.
It may be that, in the final, France or Belgium have too much power and individual brilliance for them. But they'll have to get the ball first.

Italy v Spain - LIVE Nations League semi-final updates

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Mikel Oyarzabal (Spain) Set up both his team's goals with lovely but different crosses and generally tormented the Italy defence.

"Italy's streak was meant to end" Luis Enrique after Spain victory


Italy: Donnarumma 6, Di Lorenzo 4, Bonucci 4, Bastoni 5, Emerson 5, Jorginho 4, Barella 5, Verratti 4, Chiesa 6, Insigne 5, Bernardeschi 4 Subs: Chiellini 6, Calabria 6, Kean 6, Locatelli 6, Pellegrini 6.
Spain: Unai Simon 7, Azpilicueta 7, Laporte 6, Pau Torres 5, Alonso 8, Busquets 7, Gavi 7, Koke 6, Oyarzabal 8, Torres 8, Sarabia 7. Subs: Pino 7, Merino 6, Sergi Roberto 6, Gil 6.

"Italy's streak was meant to end" Luis Enrique after Spain victory


17’ - GOAL! A LOVELY GOAL! Italy 0-1 Spain (Torres) That's been coming! Another ball down the left, Alonso for Oyarzabal and a blinding cross into the middle, where Torres leaps to adjust feet, cushioning a volley into the turn and from there into the far corner!Now then!

34’ - Italy have mainly attacked down the left, but a ball out right sees Bernadeschi collect nicely and run at Alonso, using Chiesa, who's in the middle as a decoy ... before sweeping a decent shot that Unai Simon turns against his near post!

35’ - Italy have woken up! They're back down the left, where Chiesa crosses superbly, low and fizzing, so Insigne allows the ball across his body to punch low into the corner ... only to send his effort zipping wide! what an oversight!

41’ - Hello! Bonucci challenges Busquets and when Verratti holds him by the shoulders, the ref intimates an elbow! Busquets stays down, of course, he does, AND BONUCCI GETS A SECOND YELLOW! HE IS OFF!

45+1’ - GOAL! Italy 0-2 Spain (Torres) This is another lush goal, Spain moving it nicely down the left yet again! Alonso wedges a ball over the top for Sarabia, who caresses first-time for Oyarzabal on the left of the box. He coaxes an artist's cross on the half-volley and onto the head of Torres, who panels back into the far corner! Surely Spain are going through and Italy's record is coming to an end!

83’ - GOAL! Italy 1-2 Spain (Pellegrini) Really! Spain have a corner and Chiellini heads away then, when Pino pokes tamely back to Pau Torres, he's too weak in the tackle! Chiesa streaks clear, squares, and Pellgrini taps home a livener! We got ourselves a ball-game!


Italy's unbeaten run ended at 37 games, a world record.
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