UEFA Nations League: Gavi makes history as Spain end Italy’s 37-game unbeaten streak to reach final
Italy’s magnificent unbeaten streak ended at 37 after Spain’s 2-1 UEFA Nations League final in Milan on Wednesday. Ferran Torres scored twice in the first half for La Roja while Leonardo Bonucci saw red for the Azzurri and the hosts could only manage one consolation goal thanks to Lorenzo Pellegrini at San Siro.
European champions Roberto Mancini could not repeat their feat of the summer when they knocked out Luis Enrique’s men in the semi-finals and will now play the qualifiers for third place with one from Belgium and France.
1. 37 years and over
Although now over, Italy’s run has been excellent while it has lasted and leaves Mancini in an unusual position of now having to recover his players after a loss in competition for the first time since 2018. He would be false to say that a setback did not come based on recent World Cup qualifying results, but missing the opportunity to win a second piece of silverware in a year – and at home – will hurt the Italians for a while.
2. Fantastic Ferran
The two-goal Spanish hero on the night is emerging as one of Enrique’s key figures and the Manchester City man’s brace was just further confirmation that he is now La’s main goal threat. Roja. Of course there is also the absent Alvaro Morata, but he was more than lucky enough to prove himself as reliable as the 21-year-old has been at senior level so far and has yet to convince .
3. Bonucci overbooked
Italy’s job was not made any easier by their captain’s double yellow card in the first half and although the 34-year-old second had sparked debate, it was the last thing Mancini’s side needed against it. A regular question during the Euro was how long Bonucci and Chiellini can continue to be flawless at the top level and this is already evidence to suggest that the fall could come sooner than expected.
4. Roja Revolution
Barcelona teenage midfielder Gavi made an impressive debut and became the country‘s youngest player at 17 years and 62 days old. Spain’s rebirth under Enrique continues at a steady pace and Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal are just two of the key elements of this new-look squad that could build on their performance at the Euro ahead of the World Cup. 2022 and give Belgium or France a tough test. A Nations League title would be a great reward for the progress made in recent years.
5. Donnarumma disgust
The Paris Saint-Germain man was manhandled from start to finish and suffered a thoroughly miserable comeback in Milan with two goals conceded in addition to the warm welcome he received for leaving AC Milan this summer. Expect the 22-year-old to bounce back, but it was a mixed start to life as a European champion with his timeshare with Keylor Navas on top of that slander.