Italy on Monday evening put in a dominant performance as they beat defending champions Spain 2-0 in Paris to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
Antonio Conte’s side took the lead in the 33rd minute through defender Giorgio Chiellini but they could have had more but for three superb saves from David De Gea.
Spain had a golden chance to equalise right as the death through Gerard Pique but Gianluigi Buffon was alert to the danger, making a brilliant save before Graziano Pelle’s strike sealed victory in injury time.
Spanish coach, Vicente Del Bosque, however believes that the defeat does not signal an end to Spain’s reign at the top of world football.
“Sometimes a team has to accept defeat,” he said. “I accept that Italy were better than us, but that does not have to mean it is the end of an era. Spanish football still has a great structure, with good players and coaches, and now we must look forward to qualifying for the next World Cup.”
The Italian coach shares the sentiment and was quite modest in victory. “It is in rude health,” the victorious Italy coach said.
“Look who keeps winning all the Champions League and Europa League [titles]. I wish Italian football was as healthy, because this is not the rosiest period for our country in terms of footballing talent. I think everybody knows that, and that’s why this victory should fill us with pride.
“I have said on many occasions that in terms of going forward Italy had to be a club; we have to play like a team faced with a league season because we cannot rely on outstanding individuals as we have done in the past. We have to be a team and I think we are getting there.”
Italy will now face Germany in the last eight at the Stade De Bordeaux on July 2 and Conte says, “They are the best side at these championships bar none, and we are going to have to face them without Thiago Motta, who is suspended, and possibly Daniele De Rossi, who has hurt his rib.
“Germany are a great team and there are a lot of hurdles in our path but when the going gets tough we can often manage to respond.”