• Thursday, July 18, 2024

FOOTBALL

Spain beat Italy to reach Euro knockouts, England held by Denmark

Spain, three-time winners, defeated reigning champions Italy at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen.

This second win in Group B guarantees Spain top spot with a game to spare. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Spain advanced to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 victory over Italy on Thursday. England, meanwhile, struggled in a 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Spain, three-time winners, defeated reigning champions Italy at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen. Riccardo Calafiori scored an own goal 10 minutes after half-time, securing Spain’s win.

This second win in Group B guarantees Spain top spot with a game to spare. They will play their last-16 match in Cologne on June 30 against one of the best third-place finishers.

Italy still have a chance to advance. A draw against Croatia in Leipzig on Monday will secure second place in the group for Luciano Spalletti’s team.

This match marked the fifth consecutive European Championship meeting between Spain and Italy. Spain, seeking revenge for their penalty shootout loss in the semi-finals at Wembley three years ago, could have won by a larger margin. Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made several key saves. Lamine Yamal came close for Spain, and Nico Williams hit the bar.

“I am delighted and proud not just with the result against a great side but with the way in which we got it,” said Spain coach Luis de la Fuente.

“It’s very simple, they were faster than us, compact and were right on top of us,” said Spalletti. “We simply weren’t as bright as them.”

Earlier, England missed the chance to secure a last-16 spot with a 1-1 draw against Denmark in Frankfurt in Group C. England took the lead when Harry Kane scored after Kyle Walker caught Danish defender Victor Kristiansen off guard.

Denmark equalised with a goal by Morten Hjulmand before half-time. Phil Foden hit the post for England, and Denmark’s Andreas Christensen nearly scored a late winner.

The draw leaves everything to play for in the final Group C games next Tuesday.

“The challenge is to do something that has never been done before. So it couldn’t be any bigger,” said England coach Gareth Southgate. “Clearly we are disappointed with the level of the two performances.”

In the day’s other Group C match, Serbia drew 1-1 with Slovenia. Zan Karnicnik scored for Slovenia, but Luka Jovic equalised for Serbia in the 95th minute.

England lead Group C with four points, two ahead of Denmark and Slovenia. They need only a draw against Slovenia in Cologne to qualify.

On Friday, France will face the Netherlands in Leipzig. Kylian Mbappe’s participation is uncertain after breaking his nose in France’s 1-0 win over Austria. Didier Deschamps hopes to have him available as Mbappe trained in a mask inspired by the French flag.

Poland and Austria will also play in Group D, and Slovakia will face Ukraine in Group E in Duesseldorf.

(AFP)

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