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Euro 2024: Spain edge past Italy 1-0 with Calafiori own goal in thriller, advances to knockout stage

In a gripping Euro 2024 showdown at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Spain clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Italy on Thursday night.

football Euro 2024: Spain edge past Italy 1-0 with Calafiori own goal in thriller, advances to knockout stage snt
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First Published Jun 21, 2024, 2:30 AM IST

In a gripping Euro 2024 showdown at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Spain clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Italy on Thursday night. The Group B encounter was defined by tense moments and missed opportunities before a crucial own goal by Italy's Riccardo Calafiori tilted the balance in Spain's favour. This win secures Spain's spot in the round of 16 following their earlier impressive 3-0 triumph over Croatia, setting the stage for an exciting progression in the tournament.

The game began with Spain showing early promise as Barcelona star Pedri forced Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into a sharp save within the first 90 seconds. Spain's Nico Williams missed a golden opportunity shortly after, failing to convert a headed chance provided by Alvaro Morata, leaving fans and teammates visibly frustrated.

Italy, although initially struggling to establish control, gradually found their rhythm as the first half progressed. Spain continued to dominate possession and chances, with Fabian Ruiz threatening with a powerful strike that Donnarumma managed to tip over the bar.

The second half saw Spain maintain their attacking intent, with Pedri squandering another clear opportunity to put his team ahead. Italy, meanwhile, resorted to defensive tactics, opting to sit deep and defend in numbers to thwart Spain's relentless attacks.

The breakthrough for Spain finally arrived in the 55th minute through an unfortunate own goal by Riccardo Calafiori. Nico Williams was instrumental in the build-up, beating his marker before delivering a dangerous cross that deflected off Alvaro Morata and ricocheted off Calafiori into the net, sending the Spanish fans into jubilation.

Andrea Cambiasso's heroic goal-line clearance provided a crucial moment of resilience for Italy as they battled to stay competitive in the contest against Spain. With Spain holding onto their slim 1-0 lead, Cambiasso's timely intervention prevented what could have been a decisive second goal, keeping Italy's hopes alive in the late stages of the match.

Italy's determination to salvage a draw intensified as they earned their first corner of the game in the 85th minute. With time running out, the Azzurri threw numbers forward in search of an equalizer, relying on set-piece opportunities to unsettle Spain's defense. Despite their efforts, a goal from open play seemed increasingly improbable against Spain's organized backline, highlighting the challenge they faced in breaking down their resilient opponents.

Spain's clinical victory over Italy not only secured their place in the knockout stages but also underscored their strong form in the tournament. With six points from two wins, Spain will now focus on maintaining momentum and fine-tuning their strategies ahead of their final group match against Albania.

Meanwhile, Italy, despite the setback, will need to regroup swiftly as the defending champions prepare for a do-or-die encounter against Croatia on Monday, where only a win will keep their hopes of advancing alive.

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