Italy – Spain 1-2. Spain brought Italy’s impressive 37-game unbeaten run to an end after winning 2-1 in Milan and qualifying for the Nations League final.

Ferran Torres - Spain
Ferran Torres scored Spain’s both goals, as La Roja came out 2-1 winners against Italy in the Nations League semifinals on Wednesday. (Image: Twitter/sefutbol)

Manchester City’s Ferran Torres scored La Roja’s both goals, with Italy’s Pellegrini setting the final score late in the game. At 17 years and 62 days, FC Barcelona’s Gavi became the youngest-ever player to feature for the Spanish national team.

Dubbed as ‘Baby Spain’ because of the many young players in the squad, the new version of La Roja got the job done against very tough opposition. Spain resisted Italy’s late pressure in the second half. The European champions were hoping to equalize despite being down to 10 men since the 42nd minute.

Ferran Torres opened the scoring after 17 minutes when he netted past Donnarumma after a cross from Oyarzabal. An error from Donnarumma almost made it 2-0 for Spain immediately after Ferran’s goal, but Bonucci managed to clear off the ball at the last second. Italy had its chances to equalize, but neither Federico Bernardeschi nor Lorenzo Insigne could find the net from good positions. Roberto Mancini’s team went down to 10 just before half-time, when Bonucci’s elbow on Sergio Busquets earned him a second booking.

Another link-up between Oyarzabal and Ferran Torres gave Spain a 2-0 lead. Torres finished the play with a header past Donnarumma. Italy’s goal came in the 82nd minute after Spain missed some good opportunities to put even more distance between them and their opponents. Chiesa’s pass found Pellegrini very well placed for Italy’s only goal in the game.

Spain will play the final of the Nations League, the new competition created by UEFA to replace friendly games and give more sense to international games which are not Euro or World Cup qualifiers. On Sunday, Spain will play the winner between Belgium and France, who meet up in Turin on Thursday.

Teams

Italy: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Bastoni, Emerson, Jorginho (Pellegrini, min. 64), Verratti (Locatelli, min. 58), Barella (Calabria, min. 72), Bernardeschi (Chiellini, min. 46), Chiesa, Insigne (Kean, min. 58).

Spain: Unai Simon, Azpilicueta, Laporte, Pau Torres, Marcos Alonso; Koke (Merino, min. 75), Busquets, Gavi (Sergi Roberto, min. 83); Oyarzabal, Sarabia (Bryan Gil, min. 75), Ferran Torres (Yeremy Pino, min. 49).

Gavi and Yeremi Pino
Teenagers Yeremi and Gavi posing together before Spain – Italy in the Nations League semifinals. (Image: Twitter/sefutbol)

Gavi, the record-breaker

Luis Enrique took everyone by surprise when he named Barcelona’s Gavi in the starting line-up at San Siro. At the age of 17 years and 62 days, Gavi beat Angel Subieta’s performance from 1936. Zubieta, who was then playing for Athletic Bilbao, made his debut for Spain aged 17 years and 284 days. Against Italy, Villarreal’s 18-year-old Yeremi Pino also played for the first time in the seniors’ national team.

Gavi has only featured in a total of 275 minutes in the Spanish La Liga for FC Barcelona before getting called to the national team. This makes him the second-quickest to earn a call after Munir El Haddadi needed just 126 minutes to become part of La Rona and play against North Macedonia.

Donnarumma, a public enemy in Milan

Gianluigi Donnarumma didn’t enjoy a great comeback at San Siro, where he played for years in the AC Milan shirt before moving to PSG this summer. It wasn’t only the result that frustrated Gigio. Donnarumma was whistled at during the whole game. AC Milan’s fans were not happy at all with his decision not to extend his contract and leave for PSG.

Donnarumma was given the Player of the Tournament award at Euro 2020 after helping Italy to a penalty shootout win over England at Wembley, in the final on 11 July.

Against Spain, he conceded two goals in a single game for the first time since he made his Italy debut five years ago.

Talking about the incidents at San Siro, Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini took his the goalkeeper’s side.

“Donnarumma played for Italy and it was not a club game,” Mancini said.

“This situation could have been put aside for one night. This could have happened in a possible PSG vs Milan game. Italy are Italy and come above all,” the manager added.

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