It wasn’t quite as short as the actual 30-second shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona back in 1881, but Italy made quick work of Spain in the shootout at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night to reach the final of Euro 2020, after a grueling 120 minutes of actual football failed to find a winner.
With former Chelsea striker Álvaro Morata putting Spain back on level terms ten minutes from time in regulation, after Italy had opened the scoring around the hour-mark through Federico Chiesa, the visibly tiring teams (Spain were in their third consecutive extra-time) slogged it out for 30 extra minutes before settling for the drama of penalties. Spain had controlled much of the game through their customary possession (70-30), while Italy were happy to stay compact and look for counters. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it was certainly intriguing and nail-biting, and that was before the decisive spot kicks.
And of course it was the biggest lawman on this side of the Atlantic to place the precise final shot into the corner, sending a sad Unai Simón helplessly and hilariously the wrong way with his customary technique. You’d think goalkeepers would know by now to not make the first move on Jorginho, but his technique continues to strike true.
As Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci reflected afterwards, this was certainly the toughest game Italy have had to play during the tournament, but they managed to advance anyway to Sunday’s final, where they await the winners of England versus Denmark on Wednesday night. That’s 33 unbeaten for the Azzurri, and I certainly wouldn’t bet against them making that at least 34.
While Jorginho took center stage at the end, we also got starts for César Azpilicueta, who was withdrawn in the 85th minute, and Emerson, who left ten minutes earlier in favor of a more defensive option. It was Azpi’s fourth start in a row for Spain, while Emerson got the nod as expected for the injured Leonardo Spinazzola and did just fine, including in limited counter-attacking forays forward (a nice one-two early in the game comes to mind, for example). Emerson could very well get the start in the final as well.