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Calafiori’s own goal helps Spain beat Italy to reach last 16

Spain’s midfielder #16 Rodri (L) and teammates applaud fans on the pitch after the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Italy at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen on June 20, 2024. — AFP

GELSENKIRCHEN: Spain defeated Italy 1-0 and passed into the last 16 stage of Euro 2024 on Thursday. An own goal from Riccardo Calafiori tipped the balance in favour of Spain.

The young wingers Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal of Spain outclassed the defending champions. Pedri’s second-minute header from a Williams cross was tipped over by Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Williams soon after flashed a header wide, setting the tone for Spain’s dominance.

Despite Italy’s usually strong defence, Donnarumma had to stretch to tip over a 30-metre rocket from Fabian Ruiz in the 25th minute. Italy’s first attempt did not come until first-half stoppage time, and the pressure on coach Luciano Spalletti’s team continued immediately after the break.

The deadlock was broken in the 55th minute. Williams fired a cross from the left which glanced off Alvaro Morata’s head, hit Donnarumma’s glove, and finally deflected off Calafiori’s knee into the net.

Spain continued to press with attacks, with Yamal flashing a shot just wide before Williams hitting the bar. La Roja will finish top of Group B regardless of the outcome of their last match against Albania on Monday and will face a third-placed team in the last 16.

Italy must avoid defeat in their last group game against Croatia to guarantee qualification. The pressure is on for the Azzurri as they aim to advance to the knockout stages and defend their title.

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