Spain Beats Italy 1-0 and Advances to Knockout Round at Euro 2024

Spain's Alvaro Morata celebrates with teammates after Italy's Riccardo Calafiori, right, lies face down on the pitch after scoring an own goal during a Group B match between Spain and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
Spain's Alvaro Morata celebrates with teammates after Italy's Riccardo Calafiori, right, lies face down on the pitch after scoring an own goal during a Group B match between Spain and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
TT

Spain Beats Italy 1-0 and Advances to Knockout Round at Euro 2024

Spain's Alvaro Morata celebrates with teammates after Italy's Riccardo Calafiori, right, lies face down on the pitch after scoring an own goal during a Group B match between Spain and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
Spain's Alvaro Morata celebrates with teammates after Italy's Riccardo Calafiori, right, lies face down on the pitch after scoring an own goal during a Group B match between Spain and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

Europe beware — Spain might just be back, The Associated Press reported.

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

“They deserved to win and we were never in the game,” Italy coach Luciano Spalletti said.

Spain produced a throwback performance that brought to mind the years when it ruled international soccer when winning back-to-back Euros and the World Cup from 2008 through 2012.

Having failed to dominate possession for the first time in 136 competitive games in its opening 3-0 win over Croatia, Spain was back to its old ways in starving Italy of the ball and dictating play in a largely lopsided game.

Chances came thick and fast in the first half, with Donnarumma pulling off a string of saves to keep the score goalless.

For all of Spain’s superiority, it took Calafiori’s own goal to break the deadlock after halftime.

Donnarumma pushed Alvaro Morata’s glancing header into the legs of Calafiori, who could only watch as the ball ricocheted into the back of the net.

Williams was then millimeters away from extending the lead with a curling shot that hit crossbar.

Spain has endured frustrating times since it last won the Euros in 2012, with early exits from the last three World Cups.

At the last Euros, it lost on penalties to Italy in the semifinals.

Having won the UEFA Nations League last year, it looks well-positioned to add another major title in Germany.

“Essentially we haven't achieved anything yet," De la Fuente said. "Football can be very cruel. We have to be cautious, humble and show respect.”

England drew 1-1 with Denmark in Group C after Harry Kane scored and then made a mistake that led to the Danes' leveler. Kane struck a record-extending 64th goal for his country to fire England ahead in Frankfurt. But his loose pass then allowed Morten Hjulmand to equalize from long range.

In the other Group C game, Luka Jovic scored in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 for Serbia against Slovenia.

England leads the group on four points and is likely to advance to the round of 16.



Chicago Fire Offer Vouchers for Fans if Messi Doesn't Play for Inter Miami on Aug. 31

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - JULY 17: Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami looks on prior to a game against Toronto FC at Chase Stadium on July 17, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Megan Briggs/Getty Images/AFP
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - JULY 17: Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami looks on prior to a game against Toronto FC at Chase Stadium on July 17, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Megan Briggs/Getty Images/AFP
TT

Chicago Fire Offer Vouchers for Fans if Messi Doesn't Play for Inter Miami on Aug. 31

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - JULY 17: Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami looks on prior to a game against Toronto FC at Chase Stadium on July 17, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Megan Briggs/Getty Images/AFP
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - JULY 17: Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami looks on prior to a game against Toronto FC at Chase Stadium on July 17, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Megan Briggs/Getty Images/AFP

The Chicago Fire said Friday that they will offer vouchers for fans if Lionel Messi doesn't play for Inter Miami when the teams meet at Soldier Field on Aug. 31.
Messi injured a ligament in his right ankle during Argentina’s win over Colombia in the Copa America final on July 14. The Fire said in a statement that they expect Messi to play. If he can't, the team will offer single match buyers who purchase between now and game day $250 off two or more new 2025 Chicago Fire season ticket memberships or $100 off two or more single match tickets for the 2025 home match against Inter Miami.
If fans already had purchased tickets, the Fire said they would offer the chance to claim two complimentary tickets to the Fire’s Fan Appreciation Night on Oct. 19 against Nashville.