Chiellini, Pelle send champions Spain home
France, June 27: Giergio Chiellini pounced to open the score in the first half before Graziano Pelle secured the win late on, sending the Azzurri through to the quarter-finals of the competition
Italy ended their run of heartbreak against Spain at major tournaments by knocking the holders out of Euro 2016 with a 2-0 last-16 victory at the Stade de France.
Spain defeated Italy at Euro 2008, as well as thrashing them 4-0 in the 2012 final, but this time they had no answer to Antonio Conte’s men, who recorded a deserved victory.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini tapped in Italy’s opener in the first half and only an impressive goalkeeping performance from David de Gea kept Vicente del Bosque’s men in with a chance.Alvaro Morata headed straight at Gianluigi Buffon as they looked to keep their hopes of a record third consecutive title alive, but wave after wave of Spain attack crashed against the rock-solid Italian defence.
Buffon made a wondrous save to deny Gerard Pique in the last minute of normal time and Graziano Pelle struck the final blow in stoppage time as Italy’s slick counter-attack claimed another victim.
After beating Spain at a major competition for the first time since 1994, the prize for the Azzurri is a quarter-final tie against world champions Germany, who they beat en route to the final four years ago, in Bordeaux on Saturday.
Italy were totally dominant in the first half, with De Gea getting down sharply early on to push away Pelle’s accurate header from eight yards. A few moments later, De Gea superbly tipped an Emanuele Giaccherini overhead kick onto the post having not realised the playmaker had been penalised for a foul as he attempted to shoot.
Sergio Ramos had a penalty claim denied after tangling with Chiellini, but Italy continued to look the more likely and Marco Parolo headed just wide.