After Monday’s Round of 16 matches of the Euro 2016 Championship, Italy and Iceland advanced to the quarterfinals at the expense of Spain and England respectively.
First was Italy who paid Spain back in their own coin after the Azurri were handed a 4-0 mauling in the final of the same Championship four years ago.
Spain had defeated Italy at Euro 2008, before the thrashing in the 2012 final, but this time they had no answer to Antonio Conte’s men, who recorded a deserved victory.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini tapped in Italy’s opener in the first half and only an impressive goalkeeping performance
from David de Gea kept Vicente del Bosque’s men in with a chance.
Alvaro Morata headed straight at Gianluigi Buffon as they looked to keep their hopes of a record third consecutive title
alive, but wave after wave of Spain attack crashed against the rock-solid Italian defence.
Buffon made a wondrous save to deny Gerard Pique in the last minute of normal time and Graziano Pelle struck the final
blow in stoppage time as Italy’s slick counter-attack claimed another victim.
After beating Spain at a major competition for the first time since 1994, the prize for the Azzurri is a quarter-final
tie against world champions Germany, who they beat en route to the final four years ago, in Bordeaux on Saturday.
Sergio Ramos had a penalty claim denied after tangling with Chiellini, but Italy continued to look the more likely and
Marco Parolo headed just wide.
Italy got the breakthrough in the 33rd minute after Ramos had fouled Pelle just outside the area. Eder’s free-kick was
parried by De Gea and then kept alive by Giaccherini, allowing Chiellini to prod home from close range.
Just before half-time, Giaccherini cut inside from the left and shot towards the top corner to force a magnificent
fingertip save from De Gea, which kept Spain in the match.
Del Bosque brought on Aritz Aduriz for Nolito at the break, although it was Morata who spurned a glorious chance to
equalise – heading straight at Buffon from six yards after Cesc Fabregas’ delivery.
Italy lost Daniele De Rossi to injury, but they should have killed the game off when Pelle’s flick sent Eder racing
through on goal, only for De Gea to stand tall and deny the Inter striker.
Spain got better as the match progressed, with David Silva curling wide and Ramos off-target with a header as Italy
began to sit back, while Buffon began to have an influence, keeping out Andres Iniesta and Pique from outside the
Thiago Motta received a booking that will keep him out of the Germany game for slapping Sergio Busquets in the face,
before Buffon made his most vital save – brilliantly keeping out another Pique effort from close range.
Italy sealed a famous triumph on the break when a cross from substitute Matteo Darmian deflected into the path of Pelle,
who volleyed home to send Conte and the Azzurri faithful wild.
Iceland’s Fairytale Continued as they ended England’s Euro 2016 Party with a 2-1 win.
Lars Lagerback who had coached Nigeria four years ago came from behind to defeat England 2-1 and book a quarterfinal
meeting with hosts France.
The small nation’s players and supporters have won an abundance of admirers during their time at the finals, but many
expected their tale to come to an end against Roy Hodgson’s favourites.
And when Wayne Rooney put England ahead with a fourth-minute penalty, it looked as though Iceland had a mountain to
climb if they were to extend their stay in France.
But, in a dramatic opening to the game in Nice they found themselves ahead inside 20 minutes as Ragnar Sigurdsson
equalised before Kolbeinn Sigthorsson benefited from another costly Joe Hart mistake.
England pressed to get themselves back in the game, but as was the case against Slovakia in their final group game they
struggled to break down stubborn opposition.