Chiellini and Pelle strike to sink Spain and send Italy into quarter-finals

Chiellini and Pelle scored a goal in each half as Italy beat Spain 2-0 to go through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
 

Giorgio Chiellini of Italy celebrating after scoring the opening goal during their UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match against Spain
Giorgio Chiellini of Italy celebrating after scoring the opening goal during their UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match against Spain

The Italians had the first chance of the game after ten minutes when they were awarded a free-kick a few yards in from the left touchline. Florenzi took the shot and curled a thrilling cross deep to the back post where Pelle jumped high to bullet a header towards the bottom corner, but the Southampton man was thwarted by the De Gea who somehow got down to turn behind for a corner.

A minute later, the Spanish goalkeeper made another good save when a clipped cross came in and Giaccherini fired an ambitious bicycle kick which looked destined to find the bottom corner. The Manchester United goalkeeper saved his nation again with the block on the line, while the referee blew for a Spain free-kick.

Antonio Conte’s side kept pushing forward and had another good chance on the 25th minute. De Sciglio whipped a cross in the Spanish penalty area that was met by Parolo. However, he couldn’t guide his effort on target.

The Italians had another decent opportunity after half an hour. Pelle flicked the ball out wide towards Florenzi who sent a cross into the penalty area which Ramos almost cleared into his own net.

Four minutes later, Italy went in front. Eder stepped up to rifle a free-kick at goal which De Gea failed to hold, with Giaccherini running in to pounce on the rebound. After a scramble, it was eventually Chiellini who smashed home from close range.

Giaccherini nearly made it 2-0 for Italy on the 44th minute when he forced another excellent save by De Gea. Pelle released him down the left wing, with the former Sunderland man cutting inside on his right foot to rifle a strike aimed towards the top corner which the Spain goalkeeper saved with difficulty.

Spain started the second half looking for an equaliser and were close on the 51st minute. Silva crossed the ball into the penalty area to meet the head of Morata who somehow sent his header straight into Buffon’s arms.

Italy responded four minutes later when Eder raced away from Sergio Ramos to go through on goal. However, he couldn’t beat De Gea who made another superb block.

The Azzuri were close again on the 62nd minute after Giaccherini fired a superb, low ball along the six yard box, but none of Italy attackers managed to make contact with the ball and the chance went bagging.

The Spanish had a good chance to score an equaliser on the 69th minute. Fabregas picked Aduriz, but the Athletic Bilbao striker curled his first time shot past the left post.

Spain kept growing into confidence and tested Buffon on the 76th minute. After a period of sustained possession on the edge of the box, the ball eventually came to Iniesta who picked out a perfect volley that was tipped over by the Italian veteran.

Del Bosque’s side desperately tried to pull an equaliser, and went close on the 86th minute after Silva’s cross almost went into the path of Pedro. Though, the Chelsea man couldn’t get on it.

Buffon rescued his side on the 90th minute when De Gea’s long ball was headed into Pique’s path by Barzagli. The Barcelona man volleyed the ball towards goal, but Buffon kept it out superbly.

A minute later, the Italians made sure of their place in the quarter finals when they scored the second goal. The Azzuri caught Spain on the counter-attack, with Darmian making his way deep down the wing before smashing a deflected cross into the box. Possession fell fortuitously for Pelle, who drilled home on the half-volley from the edge of the goal area to make it 2-0.

Following this result, Italy will have another thrilling encounter as they face Germany in the quarter finals.

Spain starting line-up (4-3-3): De Gea; Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Fabregas, Iniesta; Nolito, Silva, Morata.

Italy starting line-up (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini, De Sciglio; Eder, Pelle.

Yellow cards

De Sciglio (Italy), Nolito (Spain), Pelle (Italy), Thiago Motta (Italy), Busquets (Spain).

Referee

Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

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