Sunday, May 19, 2024

Late Joselu Dagger Sends Spain To UEFA Nations League Final

La Roja to face Croatia in Nations League Final

Spain qualified for a second consecutive UEFA Nations League Final after claiming a 2-1 win over Italy in the semifinal of the competition. La Roja will now face Croatia in the final on Sunday in Feyenoord.

After watching Croatia book a spot in the final, the second spot was for one of Spain and Italy, neither of whom have previously won the competition.

Only three minutes had passed on the clock when Azzurri captain Leonardo Bonucci gave up possession under pressure from Gavi, allowing Villarreal winger Yeremy Pino to open the goalscoring for Spain.

Italy were not behind for long as they were awarded a penalty seven minutes later when a Nicolo Zaniolo effort came off the arm of Robin Le Normand. Lazio star Ciro Immobile stepped up and buried the penalty for his first international goal in nearly two years.

The Azzuri thought they had taken the lead in the 21st minute when Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi slotted home following a Jorginho pass. A VAR intervention, however, revealed that Frattesi was offside as the pass was played into him.

Neither side managed to find the net throughout the rest of the first half, with goalkeepers Unai Simon and Gianluigi Donnarumma occasionally called into action. The same was the case for most of the second half until Spain introduced Real Madrid-bound Joselu in place of the misfiring Alvaro Morata after 84 minutes.

In the 88th minute, Rodri had a shot blocked by Bryan Cristante and the ball fell into the path of the 33-year-old Joselu, who reacted quickest to fire home his effort and score his third goal in three international appearances, sending Spain to the final.

Having lost the final to France in 2021, Spain will be keen to avoid defeat against Croatia when they face each other in the UEFA Nations League final on Sunday.

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