Spain advances to knockout round at Euro 2024 with statement win over defending champion Italy

June 20, 2024  -GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Europe beware — Spain might just be back.

The three-time European champion advanced to the round of 16 at Euro 2024 after a 1-0 win against holders Italy on Thursday.

A 55th-minute own goal by Riccardo Calafiori settled the Group B game at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen. But that didn’t begin to tell the full story of a statement performance from Spain, which surely marks it as one of the favorites to win a record-extending fourth European Championship.

“I think it was the best Spain performance I have taken charge of,” coach Luis de la Fuente said. “I don’t see a ceiling on this team. The sky is the limit.”

Spain totally dominated defending champion Italy, with 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal further enhancing his reputation as one of soccer’s most exciting young stars.

Player of the match Nico Williams also tormented Italy’s defenders and was the width of the crossbar away from scoring in the second half.

It took Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to keep the score down with a string of fine saves until inadvertently pushing the ball into the legs of Calafiori, who couldn’t prevent it from ricocheting into his own goal.

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