January 16, 2022


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Ferran Torres brace condem Italy to first loss in 37 games and secures Nations League final spot

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Manchester City star Ferran Torres scored twice as Spain ended Italy’s record unbeaten run to reach the final of the Uefa Nations League.

Torres’ first-half double, which came either side of a red card for Leonardo Bonucci, condemned the European Champions to a 2-1 defeat as their 37-match unbeaten run – the longest in the history of international football – was finally halted at the San Siro, despite Lorenzo Pellegrini’s late goal.

Italy had beaten Spain on penalties in the semi-final of Euro 2020 but Luis Enrique’s men gained some revenge with victory at the same stage to set up a meeting with either Belgium or France in the second Nations League final on Sunday.

Enrique handed an international debut to Barcelona midfielder Gavi, who at 17 years and 62 days became the youngest player in Spain’s history, while Mancini stuck with the core of the side that earned European Championship glory but opted to employ Federico Bernadeschi at centre-forward in the absence of Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti.

Spain took the lead on 17 minutes when Mikel Oyarzabal’s magnificent early cross found Torres peeling off the back of his man to steer home via the far post.

It was almost two moments later when Gianluigi Donnarumma – who was whistled and booed by the home crowd all night after leaving AC Milan for PSG in the summer – spilled Marcos Alonso’s volley through his hands and onto the post before Bonucci hooked clear to spare his ‘keeper’s blushes.

However, Bonucci was in trouble himself soon after as, having already been needlessly booked for dissent, he led with an elbow in an aerial dual with Sergio Busquets and was shown a second yellow.

Roberto Mancini opted against making an immediate change to restore his backline to the full compliment, instead trying to get through to half-time, and paid the price as Oyarzabal and Torres combined again in stoppage time, the latter heading in from a lovely, cushioned cross.

Spain were content to play keep-ball for much of the second half but still went close to adding a third through Oyarzabal, who headed just wide from substitute Yeremi Pino’s cross and then was denied by Donnarumma from the same player’s pass.

However, as Spain looked set to cruise home against the ten men they were undone from their own corner, Federico Chiesa running clear from halfway before squaring to leave Pellegrini a tap-in and set up a nervy finish.

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