A last-minute goal by substitute Joselu sealed Spain’s fate, beating Italy 2-1 and confirming their spot in the second consecutive Nations League final on Thursday. Spain, under the guidance of coach Luis de la Fuente, will now face Croatia in the final to be held in Rotterdam on Sunday. Meanwhile, Italy will be competing against the Netherlands, the host country, for the third-place decider.
The Key Moments that Defined the Semifinal Clash
The early minutes saw Spain capitalize on a defensive error by Italy. Yeremy Pino finished calmly to give Spain the lead just three minutes into the match. However, Italy’s Ciro Immobile scored his first international goal in two years from the penalty spot after debutant Robin Le Normand handled the ball in the box.
The tense game, marked by Spain’s possession play and Italy’s quick counter-attacks, appeared to be heading to extra time. Rodri’s powerful effort, though, deflected off two Italian defenders and fell just in front of Joselu in a spectacular turn of events. With barely three minutes remaining, the substitute striker comfortably tapped home from four yards out, ensuring Spain’s victory.
Spain Eyes Redemption After Previous Defeat to France
Spain will now play Croatia, whom they defeated 5-3 in the round of 16 in the Euro 2020 finals. However, they have a poor record in Nations League finals, having lost to France two years ago.
“The team played a great game,” Joselu said to reporters. “We dominated almost the entire second half, only falling short of the goal.” We are now in the final and have a chance to win a trophy.”
Notable Performances and the Road Ahead
Despite boasting 61% of ball possession, Spain struggled to convert opportunities into goals, a recent trend for the team. However, Thursday’s victory marks a turning point for coach Luis de la Fuente, who took over from Luis Enrique after the World Cup.
For Spain, some notable performances came from debutant Le Normand, who recently gained Spanish citizenship, and veteran Sevilla right-back Jesus Navas, who made his first international appearance since 2020.
“We played a really high-level match,” De la Fuente stated, pleased with his team’s performance. “We told the players what we wanted ahead of time, and they listened.”
Espanyol striker Joselu, with his winning goal, continues his impressive late-career ascent. Having only made his international debut in March, he has already scored three goals in three appearances. He now has the chance to lead Spain to their first major trophy since the 2012 European Championship.
It remains to be seen whether Spain can win the final on Sunday, but their recent performance suggests they are up to the task.