Ferran Torres scored a brace to fire Spain to a 2-1 victory against a ten-man Italy side, who saw captain Leonardo Bonucci get sent off in the first half.
In what was a rematch of the UEFA Euro 2020 semi-final, things started pretty much the same way at San Siro as they had at Wembley, as Spain pressed Italy high up the pitch and posed a threat going forward. And, the opening goal came in the 17th minute as Ferran Torres diverted him a brilliant cross from Mikel Oyarzabal from the left flank.
It could have been 2-0 soon after as Gianluigi Donnarumma fumbled a catch, but Leonardo Bonucci came to his rescue, clearing the ball off the goalline. Italy then gradually grew into the contest with Federico Bernardeschi forcing a save from Unai Simon while Lorenzo Insigne was guilty of missing a sitter. However, the complexion of the game would change entirely three minutes from half-time.
Bonucci, who had been booked earlier in the game for arguing with the referee, was shown his second yellow card for an elbow on Spain captain Sergio Busquets, leaving Italy with ten men. Spain capitalised immediately, with Torres finding the back of the net in the stoppage time of the first half to make it 2-1.
Spain continued to control the proceedings after the break, even as Italy rung in the changes to try and force their way back into the game. The Azzurri did, however, manage to get a goal late on, as Federico Chiesa pounced an error to launch a brilliant counter before teeing up Lorenzo Pellegrini, who made no mistake.
It was a little too late, though, as Spain brought an end to Italy’s three-year-long unbeaten streak to book a place in the finals of the UEFA Nations League where they will face the winners of Belgium vs France. Here are our player ratings for both sets of stars from an exciting encounter at San Siro.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 5/10
This is the first time Gianluigi Donnarumma has conceded two goals while playing in a match for Italy.
He's been playing for the national team for FIVE years ??? pic.twitter.com/vaTB7uJo4x
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 6, 2021
Booed on his return to Milan, which seemed to get to him. Not a lot he could have done about the goals but almost made a mess of a shot in between and had to be bailed out by Bonucci. Made a few good saves, but generally looked nervy and rattled.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo: 5/10
Struggled to cope with the double threat of Oyarzabal and Marcos Alonso on his side and was caught out way too easily in the buildup to both goals. Showed some improvements after the break and made a key intervention. Headed wide from a promising position.
Leonardo Bonucci: 3/10
Captaining the team on the night with Giorgio Chiellini on the bench, the veteran defender got himself booked unnecessarily for running his mouth at the referee. Did make a huge clearance off the line to keep his team in the game at 1-0 but then elbowed Busquets to get himself sent off, letting the team down.
Bonucci is OFF!
He receives a second yellow card after appearing to elbow Busquets ? pic.twitter.com/QbSgcnBbgK
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 6, 2021
Alessandro Bastoni: 5/10
Not good enough from the youngster who started ahead of Chiellini. Should have done better to cut out the cross for Torres leading to the opener and did not look convincing when Spain ran at the backline in the first half. Improved in the latter stages, though.
Emerson Palmieri: 5.5/10
Looked good when he decided to make overlapping runs on the left side and was fairly solid defensively as well, until he lost Torres leading to Spain’s second goal. Continued to provide an outlet even after Italy were reduced to ten men.
Nicolo Barella: 5/10
An ineffective outing from the Italian international who tried hard to influence things but was just unable to get on the ball enough to make it work. Taken off in the second half.
Played a few good passes forward and tried to help out defensively but was not able to get a foothold in the midfield battle as the Spain trio of Gavi, Koke and Sergio Busquets dominated.
Marco Verratti: 5/10
Much like the rest of the two Italian central midfielders, Verratti was also well below his best and was not able to impact the proceedings like he can, as Gavi was all over him throughout his time on the field.
Federico Chiesa: 7/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Chiesa showed some neat touches in and around the box in the first half and looked the likeliest to make things happen even though he was not always provided with the required service. Did brilliantly to force the consolation goal as he ran the length of the pitch to set Pellegrini up.
Once again Federico Chiesa is Italy’s best player, once again Federico Chiesa turns up in a big match and provides an assist. Not only is he his clubs best player, he is also his countries best player as well. Always a desire to attack, always a desire to win.
Grazie Fede ? pic.twitter.com/242KGZDnDS
— JClub ?? (@blvckgianni) October 6, 2021
Federico Bernardeschi: 6/10
Asked to lead the line in the absence of Ciro Immobile, the Juventus winger did a fairly decent job at the top and almost scored an equaliser, forcing a fine stop from Unai Simon. Sacrificed after the half-time break for Chiellini.
Lorenzo Insigne: 4/10
Missed a gilt-edged chance to draw Italy back on level terms in the first period. Hardly offered any threat going forward on the night.
Giorgio Chiellini: 6.5/10
On for Bernardeschi at half-time and solidified things a great deal at the back for Italy. Marshalled his troops well and tried to inspire a comeback but it was not to be.
Moise Kean: 5/10
Provided a physical presence at the top after coming on for Insigne just before the hour mark. Couldn’t pose a goal threat, however.
Manuel Locatelli: 6/10
Took the fight to the Spanish midfielders after replacing Verratti in the 58th minute. Got stuck in and made some strong challenges, but could not change the course of the game.
Lorenzo Pellegrini: 6.5/10
On for Jorginho in the 64th minute, the AS Roma captain provided thrust from the midfield. Did well to keep up with Chiesa on the breakaway before finishing with a simple tap-in.
Davide Calabria: 5/10
Replaced Barella in the 72nd minute. Did not do much of note.
Unai Simon: 7/10
? – Unai Simon with a great save at his near post! pic.twitter.com/u6WR7Wh8WE
— ??? ???? ? (@TheEuropeanLad) October 6, 2021
Given the nod ahead of David de Gea yet again, the goalkeeper repaid the manager’s faith with a solid display. Made two good saves to deny Chiesa and Bernardeschi in the first period. Not tested a great deal thereafter.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6.5/10
Solid if not spectacular from the Chelsea captain. Defended his flank well for the most part and even provided a decent outlet on occasions. Booked unnecessarily in the first period, though, and had to be careful.
Aymeric Laporte: 6.5/10
A comfortable night out for the centre-back who was never really pushed by the Italian forwards. Impressed with his range of distribution throughout and was alert when needed.
Pau Torres: 5.5/10
Solid for the most part but it was his mistake that allowed Italy to score the late goal, sparking hopes of a comeback. Passing was impressive from the back.
Marcos Alonso: 7.5/10
Preferred ahead of Sergio Reguilon, the Chelsea defender had a fine performance at San Siro. Provided a constant outlet on the left and was involved in the buildup to both of Spain’s goals. Could have scored himself on either side of half-time, but missed a chance and had an effort saved. Solid defensively.
Gavi's international debut by numbers, against the European champions Italy:
89% pass accuracy
7 fouls conceded
4 tackles made
2 take-ons completed
1 through ball
1 foul won
17 years and 62 days old. ✨ pic.twitter.com/CDZMoISUoL
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 6, 2021
Made his debut for the Spanish national team, in the process becoming the youngest player to play for La Roja. Pressed Verratti hard and did not let him settle while oozing composure and incisiveness when on the ball. Great things expected from the 17-year-old.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Had been in terrible form for Barcelona coming into the game, but that changed as he stepped up in a big way for Spain. Helped his team dominate the midfield battle, was calm and composed on the ball, read the game well to cut out any threat.
The legs of the engine room, Koke put in a lot of effort off the ball to shut Italy out and ensure Spain stayed on top. Impressive in his defensive duties, the Atletico Madrid captain offered quality with the ball at his feet as well.
Ferran Torres: 9/10
?| Ferran at 21:
Hat-trick against Neuer✅
Brace against Euros winners Italy✅
24 minute hat-trick in the PL✅ pic.twitter.com/5ExstVG4n9
— City Inside (@CityInside_) October 7, 2021
Just cannot stop scoring at the moment. Great run and instinctive finish to open the scoring before adding another strike to his name with yet another clinical strike on the cusp of half-time. Had to come off with an injury early in the second period, which was a shame as he could have gotten a hat-trick.
Pablo Sarabia: 7/10
Started centrally in the false-nine role but had the licence to drift across the frontline, and his movement caused problems to the Italian defence even though he did not pose a goal threat. Led the press from the front as well.
Mikel Oyarzabal: 8.5/10
May have wasted an early half-chance but was all over the Italy defenders like a rash with his clever movement and ability to play dangerous passes into the box. Created both the goals for his team while crafting a number of other chances, too.
Mikel Oyarzabal's first half by numbers vs. Italy:
91% pass accuracy
3 chances created
2 take-ons completed
Supreme whip. ? pic.twitter.com/i1rp8n459w
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 6, 2021
Yeremi Pino: 7/10
Replaced the injured Ferran Torres four minutes into the second half and was a lively presence in the final third. Looked a threat each time he got on the ball and ran at the Italy backline. Created a couple of promising opportunities.
Mikel Merino: N/A
On for Koke for the final 15 minutes. Solid.
Bryan Gil: N/A
Replaced Sarabia for the final 15 minutes. Made a couple of eye-catching forward runs.
Sergi Roberto: N/A
On for Gavi in the 84th minute. Helped see out the game with composure.