International

Euro 2020: Jorginho spot on to send Italy to final

It will be Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri rather than Cesar Azpilicueta who on Sunday have the chance to add the European Championship with their country to the Champions League with their club, after the first Euro 2020 semi-final ended in a win for Italy following penalties.

With the shoot-out poised at 3-2 to Italy and Jorginho poised to take his nation’s fifth kick, the Chelsea man slotted it in trademark style to set up a meeting with the winners of the England-Denmark semi-final, back in the same stadium on Sunday.

In the initial 90 minutes, it was Spain who pressed forward for much of the time at Wembley but Italy always looked to have the pace and counter-attacking knowhow to make chances, and they did just that for the opening goal, scored on the break by Federico Chiesa in the second half.

With their opponents unable to turn their possession play into clear-cut chances, once the Azzurri were ahead, it looked like their famed ability to defend leads would be enough, but Alvaro Morata supplied an equaliser with 10 minutes to go and the match went to extra time.

Emerson was the one change to the Italy side from the quarter-finals, coming in for injured Leonardo Spinazzola whom he replaced towards the end of that win over Belgium, and the Chelsea man who played 73 minutes tonight caught the eye in the first half especially.

Jorginho had started every game for Italy in the tournament and that continued while Azpilicueta lined up on the Spain right, setting up a direct competition with Emerson. The Chelsea skipper would play all but the final five minutes of normal time.

The Spaniards made three changes from their penalty shoot-out success over Switzerland including leaving out former Blues striker Morata. Mikel Oyarzabal, known for being just as much a winger for Real Sociedad, took his place and he had his chances to score but they went untaken.

As expected, these two football heavyweights produced a tight and good quality contest and in the first half, Emerson with his forward running was one of the game’s brightest players. A minute before the interval he struck the woodwork.

Three minutes in, he sent what initially looked to be the perfect ball forward to Nicolo Barella and indeed the midfielder went on to hit the post, but he had been offside. Italy had started the better but Spain settled and they would have gone ahead had Oyarzabal been able to sort his feet out in front of the target.

Ferran Torres shot wide having beaten Jorginho and Spain were dominating possession with over 70 per cent of the ball.

Then on 20 minutes came a big Italy counter-attack, instigated primarily when Emerson got behind Azpilicueta. The left-back moved the ball inside and had Ciro Immobile sent it wider rather than a short pass to Barella, there was every chance of a clear shot at goal, but Barella took it himself and with Azpi back to make an attempted block, the chance evaporated.

Instead it was Spain with the one shot on target in the first half but Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Dani Olmo.

Close to half-time, Emerson on the overlap had a shooting chance from a very tight angle and skimmed it off the top of the crossbar.

Sergio Busquets scooped a shot over the Italy bar from an attack instigated by an Azpilicueta tackle as Spain started the second half well, but the Azzurri hit back by testing Donnarumma with a shot by Chiesa. Spain came forward again with a drive from Oyarzabal but it was Chiesa who made the breakthrough just before the hour.

The move was from one end of the pitch to the other and although Spain did well to defend initially against Lorenzo Insigne, Chiesa picked up the loose ball and finished superbly.

Spain should have equalised before they did but Oyarzabal somehow failed to get his head to a Koke cross in front of goal and at the other end, Unai Simon saved twice from substitute Domenico Berardi keeping Spain alive.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, Morata, on as a substitute, levelled with a tidy finish having exchanged passes with Dani Olmo.

Spain had made it harder for Jorginho to control the tempo of the game than in earlier matches but he was the one Chelsea player who played the additional 30 minutes. His side survived two penalty area scrambles in the first period of extra time but they looked stronger in the second, even putting the ball in the Spain net from an offside position. It would need a shoot-out to decide this tie.

With the tension high, both sides missed their first penalty but they were then all scored until Morata failed to convert Spain’s fourth. That left Jorginho with the chance to win it which he did by sending Simon to the turf and rolling the ball into the other side of the net.
 

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