Spain end Italy's hot streak to set up final against France or Belgium

·2-min read

Spain await the winners of Thursday night’s match between France and Belgium in the final of the Nations league after terminating Italy's 37-game unbeaten run in Milan.

Luis Enriqué’s men advanced to Sunday’s showdown following a 2-1 victory over the European champions Italy.

The triumph - courtesy of a Ferran Torres brace - avenged in part the defeat in the semi-finals at the European championships last summer. Italy's world record winning streak stretched back to September 2018.

“We took the game to Italy,” said Enriqué. “We wanted to play our style of football and that’s what we did ... even if we could not quite kill off the game when we were 2-0 up.”

With Italy reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Leonardo Bonnucci for two yellow cards in the first-half, Mikel Oyarzabal and Marcus Alonso wasted excellent opportunities during the second-half to increase the lead.

Return

Their poor marksmanship almost returned to haunt them after Lorenzo Pellegrini’s goal in the 83rd minute set up a grandstand finish from the Italians.

But Spain - who had dominated possession - kept their composure to progress to their first international final since lifting the 2012 European championships.

“We had to lose sooner or later,” said Italy coach Roberto Mancini.

"It’s better that it’s here than in the final at the Euros or even the World Cup.

"I think the game and the defeat will help us to be stronger as a team. It will help us understand that we are a major team.”

Improvement

In the prelude to Thursday night's match at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, the Belgium boss Roberto Mancini played down talk of seeking revenge for the 1-0 defeat to France in the World Cup semi-final in July 2018.

Didier Deschamps’ players were the last side to prevent Belgium from scoring a goal. In the 38 fixtures since that loss in Saint Petersburg, Belgium have hit the target just over 100 times.

“We’ve been through a lot together since that game,” said Martinez. “In terms of the pool of players and the experiences, I believe that we are stronger than we were in 2018.

“But then again, France has options ... three elite players for each position and I’d say that Didier Deschamps also thinks that his side has improved since that semi-final.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting