Impressive Italy blank Spain
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP):
Spain's era of dominance at the European Championship came to an end yesterday when Italy beat the two-time defending champions 2-0 in the round of 16.
Italy deserved their victory and were impressive from the start at Stade de France, stifling Spain's attacking intent and creating several scoring opportunities with their slick interplay.
The victory meant Italy avoided a third consecutive elimination at the European Championship to Spain, and secure a quarter-final clash against another of their old foes, Germany.
"It was definitely a great performance," Italy coach Antonio Conte said. "They did something fantastic tonight. They are great men and wonderful footballers."
Giorgio Chiellini, a member of Italy's resilient defence, put his team ahead in the 33rd minute, when he poked the ball across the line after Spain goalkeeper David de Gea couldn't hold on to a free kick by Eder.
In the second half, Spain showed more menace and came close to equalising on a couple of occasions. Sergio Ramos nearly scored with a header from close range in the team's first clear chance of the game, and Buffon had to make a difficult save on a powerful shot by Andres Iniesta in the 76th minute.
Graziano Pelle sealed the victory Italy's first competitive triumph over Spain since the 1994 World Cup with his second goal of the tournament after a cross by Matteo Darmian in second-half injury time.