MILAN — Spain ended European champions Italy’s world record 37-match unbeaten run as Ferran Torres scored twice in a 2-1 win at the San Siro stadium in an entertaining Nations League semifinal on Wednesday.
Italy, trailing by two goals at the break, had to play the entire second half with 10 men after captain Leonardo Bonucci was sent off, but showed real determination as they sought to avoid their first loss since a September 2018 defeat by Portugal.
Spain will face the winners of Thursday’s semifinal between France and Belgium in Sunday’s decider.
Torres put Spain ahead in the 17
minute, steering a left-wing cross from Mikel Oyarzabal past Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into the far corner.
Donnarumma, booed by AC Milan fans angered at his recent move from the club to Paris St.-Germain, nearly gifted Spain a second when he fumbled a harmless Marcos Alonso effort against the post, but Bonucci scrambled the ball clear.
Any lingering questions about the importance of the match had been blown away by the blistering start and it was by no means one-way traffic, as Italy started to open up the Spanish defense.
Federico Bernardeschi went close to an equalizer with a low drive from the right which Spain keeper Unai Simon pushed against the post and Lorenzo Insigne missed a great chance, firing wide when in space on the edge of the box.
The Azzurri, who beat Spain on penalties in the Euro 2020 semifinal in July, went a man down in the 42
minute when Bonucci was sent off for a second yellow card after elbowing Sergio Busquets.
Torres sent Luis Enrique’s side in with a two-goal lead at the break when he was left unmarked to head in another fine cross from Oyarzabal. —