Italy into Euro 2020 final after Jorginho penalty settles shootout against Spain

Italy beat Spain 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw at Wembley to set up a Euro 2020 final against England or Denmark

In the end, it all came down to one kick. One kick to put Italy into the final. One kick to erase the years of underachievement, one kick to quench a nation’s longing, one kick for everything. The kick fell to Jorginho. With his customary hop and skip, and a composure verging on the ridiculous, he sent Unai Simón the wrong way and rolled the ball into the corner.

That one kick ended almost three hours of the highest tension, as well as Spain’s flawed, valiant campaign to regain the trophy they won in 2008 and 2012. For Pedri, the brilliant 18-year-old midfielder who ran the game and completed 98% of his passes, the tears flowed and would not stop. But once the sadness has ebbed there will be real pride for Luis Enrique and his team: progress to build on, a new generation of fearless young stars to fete and nurture. Judge this team not too harshly. Dani Olmo – one of their best players – put a penalty over the bar. Álvaro Morata – whose goal forced extra time in the first place – had his saved. It is no kind of margin at all.

It was a semi-final that would have been a worthy final, a game of dazzling technical quality that pulsed and throbbed like a human heart, abetted by the excellent refereeing of Felix Brych. You might say that Spain marginally deserved to win it on the balance of the night; Italy on the balance of the tournament. Despite taking the lead through Federico Chiesa they never quite managed to hit the heights of their previous matches. None of that will matter to Roberto Mancini, who amid the wild celebrations remained the most suave and unflappable man at Wembley. In his mind, you suspect, the quest to topple England or Denmark has already begun.

The national stadium was a vivid and dramatic fiesta of watercolour under the lights: sodden Spanish white and drenched Italian blue on a pitch softened and slickened by a day and a night of rain. In the stands, at least, the Azzurri were decisively in the majority, barracking the long Spanish spells of possession, erupting on the occasions when Italy threatened the high backline, rising as one when Chiesa’s stunning finish put them ahead on the hour.

This Spain team are a slightly more chaotic evolution of their illustrious predecessors of a decade ago: full of the regulation craft and cleverness but with just the faintest whiff of calamity at their core, typified by the sight of Simón racing out of his goal like a Sunday ringer with designs on a central midfield berth. Sometimes he got the ball; sometimes, more alarmingly, he did not. But for all this, Spain largely controlled the game amid the occasional squally Italian counter.

Gianluigi Donnarumma saves Álvaro Morata’s spot kick in the penalty shootout.
Gianluigi Donnarumma saves Álvaro Morata’s spot kick in the penalty shootout. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Luis Enrique had sprung a surprise up front. Earlier in the tournament he had defended his beleaguered No 7 by insisting his team would be “Morata and 10 others”. Now the Juventus striker took his place alongside 11 others on the bench, replaced by the young Real Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal: perhaps after his manager had seen how well Italy dealt with a conventional target man in Romelu Lukaku in the quarter-final against Belgium.

Spain’s movement was a major factor in Italy’s relative discomfiture; yet for all his sharpness off the ball Oyarzabal missed at least four good chances. Morata’s introduction after 62 minutes was, in retrospect, only the start of the drama.


The game opened out in the second half and that seemed to benefit both sides. On the hour Chiesa opened the scoring at the end of a fabulous flowing move that began with Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal, shuffled through Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile, and ended with a delicious curling shot. On the touchline Luis Enrique clapped grandiosely. A few yards away Mancini kept his counsel, like a man who had seen how this was all going to end, but was not telling a soul.

Perhaps he had glimpsed the twist. With 10 minutes remaining, Morata received the ball, turned and ran, slipped it to Olmo and got it back. Now with one touch he rolled the ball past Donnarumma, gathered himself behind the goal and accepted the grace of this moment: a man finally, fleetingly at peace with the world.

Federico Chiesa curls the ball into the far corner to put Italy ahead.
Federico Chiesa curls the ball into the far corner to put Italy ahead. Photograph: Frank Augstein/Reuters

Extra time was an unruly circus. Spain continued to push against a tiring Italy, sweeping up the second balls: Olmo’s shot deflected through a thicket of legs and bounced just wide with Donnarumma nowhere. Domenico Berardi had a goal ruled out for offside. But as the minutes leaked away penalties loomed with a certain inevitability.

To loud cheers, Giorgio Chiellini won the toss and opted to shoot towards the Italian end. Manuel Locatelli saw his first kick saved. Olmo blazed over. Andrea Belotti and Leonardo Bonucci both scored for Italy; matched by Gerard Moreno and Thiago Alcântara for Spain. Federico Bernardeschi put Italy 3‑2 up. Morata went for placement, but failed to evade Donnarumma’s dive. And so to Jorginho: a player often compared to a conductor, and one who now had the continent hanging on his next move.


Jonathan Liew at Wembley

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