Italy Bans Large Cruise Ships From Venice Centre

(FILES) Large cruise ships will be banned from sailing into the centre of Venice from August 1 amid fears they are causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, Italy’s government said on July 13, 2021. (Photo by MARCO SABADIN / AFP)

 

 

Large cruise ships will be banned from sailing into the centre of Venice from August 1, Italy announced Tuesday after years of warnings they risk causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city.

The decision comes just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation UNESCO, which had proposed to add Venice to its list of endangered heritage sites.

“The decree adopted today represents an important step for the protection of the Venetian lagoon system,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said after the decree was approved at a cabinet meeting.

He added that there would be money to mitigate the impact on employment.

The move will see the biggest ships diverted to the city’s industrial port of Marghera.

However, this is viewed as only a temporary solution, with ministers calling for ideas on a new permanent terminal.

The passengers aboard cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but many residents say the giant floating hotels should not sail past the iconic St Mark’s Square.

They warn the ships cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.

The debate was reignited by the return last month of cruises after the coronavirus pandemic, when the throngs of tourists that normally fill the streets stayed away.

Venice was put on UNESCO’s heritage list in 1987 as an “extraordinary architectural masterpiece”, but the body warned last month of the need for a “more sustainable tourism management”.

After years of debate, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the government had decided to act now “to avoid the real risk of the city’s inclusion on the endangered world heritage list”.

– Good compromise –
“From August 1, large ships will no longer be able to reach Venice through the St Mark’s Basin, the St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal,” Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini said.

There would be compensation for those who lost out from the move and 157 million euros ($185 million) was being invested in the Marghera port.

He said the ban was a “necessary step to protect the environmental, landscape, artistic and cultural integrity of Venice”.

It will only apply to the biggest ships, with those carrying around 200 passengers viewed as “sustainable” and still allowed into the centre.

Those that fulfil any of four criteria will be banned: weighing more than 25,000 tonnes, measuring more than 180 metres long, more than 35 metres high or producing more than 0.1 percent sulphur.

The vice-president of tourism association Confturismo, Marco Michielli, said the new law represented a “good compromise”.

“The Marghera solution would maintain port activity in Venice, on the one hand safeguard jobs and activities, and on the other free up the Giudecca Canal on the other,” he said.

The issue of cruise ships in Venice has sparked global debate, and last month celebrities and cultural figures including Mick Jagger, Francis Ford Coppola and Richard Armstrong, director of the New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, issued a call for action.

In an open letter to the Italian government calling for a range of measures to better protect the city, they warned the historic site risked being “swept away” by cruise ships.

‘I Chose The Takers’: Southgate Takes Responsibility For Shootout Loss

England's coach Gareth Southgate (L) speaks with England's forward Marcus Rashford (R) ahead of going on during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. JOHN SIBLEY / POOL / AFP
England’s coach Gareth Southgate (L) speaks with England’s forward Marcus Rashford (R) ahead of going on during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. JOHN SIBLEY / POOL / AFP

 

England manager Gareth Southgate said it was his decision to put teenager Bukayo Saka as his team’s final penalty taker in their shoot-out loss to Italy in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.

The home side, playing in their first major final since 1966, lost 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

Southgate also brought on Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford deep into extra time specifically to take spot-kicks, and they also both missed as England blew an early advantage in the shoot-out.

“I chose the takers,” Southgate told ITV. “I’m unbelievably disappointed not to go one step further.

“We decided to make the changes at the end of the game, but we win or lose together as a team.”

Arsenal winger Saka, who had only made five international appearances before the tournament, saw England’s final penalty saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, after Jorginho had wasted the chance to secure the title for Italy when his effort was kept out by Jordan Pickford.

“That was my decision to give him (Saka) that penalty,” said Southgate, who missed the crucial penalty when England lost in the Euro 96 semi-finals to Germany on home soil.

“We worked with them in training. It was a gamble.”

 

AFP

Italy Win Euro 2020, Deny England First Trophy In 55 Years


Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (R) and teammates celebrate after winning the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

Italy have beaten England on penalties to win the Euro 2020, denying the Three Lions their first major trophy in 55 years. 

The Italians defeated England 3-2 on penalties in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final as Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed in the shoot-out following a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley.

Luke Shaw scored for England inside two minutes, the fastest ever goal in a European Championship final, but Leonardo Bonucci bundled in an equaliser at a corner midway through the second half.

 


England’s defender Luke Shaw (R) celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP

 

Needing to score to keep England alive in the shoot-out, Saka’s spot-kick was saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma as the Azzurri won the tournament for the second time.

Italy’s triumph came at the end of a shoot-out in which England scored their first two penalties but then saw Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also fail.

Jorginho could have won it for Italy only for his penalty to be saved by Jordan Pickford, giving renewed hope to the England support who had earlier created a febrile atmosphere with their team looking set to run away with this final.

The nerve-shredding climax seemed unlikely given the way the match began, with Luke Shaw scoring for Gareth Southgate’s England after just one minute and 57 seconds, the fastest goal ever in a European Championship final stunning a team who arrived here on a record 33-match unbeaten run.

Italy were shell-shocked and struggled to recover in a stadium where the official attendance was 67,173 but more England fans clearly managed to enter after disgraceful scenes when supporters without tickets stormed the gates.

Serious questions will be asked about security — the game was also held up by a pitch invader late on — but English fans were obviously desperate to see their team finally win a major tournament for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.

Italy, though, had most of the possession after falling behind and deserved their equaliser when it came midway through the second half through Leonardo Bonucci.

With no further scoring, this was the first European Championship final to be decided on penalties since 1976 and the decision to let the 19-year-old Saka step up when he did was a questionable one.

It is more penalty agony for England, whose list of previous shoot-out exits included losing to Italy at Euro 2012 as well as in the Euro 96 semi-finals against Germany when Southgate missed the crucial kick.

“We win and lose as a team and the penalty-takers were my call,” Southgate said.

“That is my decision, it is not down to the players but tonight it didn’t go for us.”

While their 55-year wait to win another major international title goes on, Italy’s own particular half-century of hurt is over.

Italy’s defender Giorgio Chiellini raises the European Championship trophy during the presentation after Italy won the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

 

The Azzurri have won four World Cups but their sole European Championship triumph before this dated back to 1968. They had lost two Euro finals in little over two decades.

However, they have been the outstanding team in this competition, beating Belgium and Spain on their way to the final.

“We have been saying that something magical was in the air since the end of May, day after day,” said skipper Giorgio Chiellini.

“It’s an incredible emotion, and we savour it because it is magnificent. We conceded a goal straight away but we dominated the whole game.”

READ ALSO: Messi Ends Trophy Drought As Argentina Beat Brazil To Win Copa America

 Baying crowd 

England fans cheer before the start of the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. Carl Recine / POOL / AFP

 

Roberto Mancini’s team will now go back to Rome to celebrate, and yet they initially appeared completely unprepared for the experience that awaited them in London.

England’s baying supporters created a hostile atmosphere, and that combined with Southgate’s tactical choices seemed to catch the Italians off guard.

England brought back Kieran Trippier for Saka in the only change from their semi-final, reverting to a five-man defence.

Within two minutes England broke forward, Harry Kane supplying Trippier who crossed from the right to the far post for Shaw to score on the half-volley.

Italy, who had not been behind all tournament, were stunned and the only surprise was that England did not try to press home their obvious superiority.

Italian fightback 

taly’s midfielder Federico Chiesa celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium in London on July 6, 2021.
Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Italy had a constant threat in Federico Chiesa but the final only swung their way in the second half.

The equaliser arrived in the 67th minute. Marco Verratti stooped to meet a corner with a header that Pickford tipped onto the post, but Bonucci converted the rebound and celebrated with the Italy fans massed at that end of Wembley.

Italy then lost Chiesa to injury. Lorenzo Insigne did not last into extra time either, and Verratti came off too.

England sent on Jack Grealish in the hope of a bit of magic, but it would come down to penalties, and more gut-wrenching disappointment for them.

AFP

 

 

England And Italy Go To Extra Time In Euro 2020 Final


Italy’s players encourage each other during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021.
FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA / POOL / AFP

 

England and Italy went to extra time in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final following a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes at Wembley.

Luke Shaw scored inside two minutes, the fastest ever goal in a European Championship final, but Leonardo Bonucci bundled in an equaliser at a corner midway through the second half.

England are attempting to win their first trophy since the 1966 World Cup, while Italy won their only European title in 1968.

AFP

Five Key Battles For Euro 2020 Final

A combination of file pictures created on July 9, 2021 shows Italy’s players (L) in Rome on June 11, 2021 and England’s players in Rome on July 3, 2021. – England face Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Andrew MEDICHINI and Alessandro GAROFALO / AFP)

 

 

The Euro 2020 final between Italy and England on Sunday at Wembley is widely expected to be a close match decided by fine margins.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five key battles on the pitch which could swing the game in one team’s favour:

Harry Kane v Giorgio Chiellini– Neither Kane nor Chiellini have enjoyed smooth rides through the tournament, but both will be crucial to their side’s hopes of winning the trophy.

England captain Kane was the top scorer in qualifying, but surprisingly looked out of sorts as he failed to score in the group stage.

But the Tottenham striker, who won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, has since bounced back with four goals in three knockout matches to lead England into their first major tournament final for 55 years.

Veteran centre-back Chiellini hobbled off in the first half of Italy’s second Group A game against Switzerland and did not return until the quarter-final victory over Belgium.

But the Azzurri skipper, alongside fellow Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, has played a big part in helping Italy withstand onslaughts from both Belgium and Spain in the semi-finals.

Raheem Sterling v Giovanni Di Lorenzo– Manchester City winger Sterling has been the driving force behind England’s run, scoring winners against both Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage before netting the opening goal in the 2-0 last-16 victory over Germany.

He also ran a tired Denmark ragged in the semi-finals, having set up Kane’s opener against Ukraine in the quarters, and won the match-winning spot-kick.

Di Lorenzo will likely be the man tasked with stopping Sterling on Sunday.

The Napoli right-back has enjoyed a solid Euro 2020, but struggled at times against the pace of Jeremy Doku against Belgium, conceding a penalty for a needless foul on the teenager.

Kalvin Phillips v Jorginho– Jorginho has been the heartbeat of the Italy midfield and one of the reasons behind a tactical shift which has seen Roberto Mancini’s men enjoy more possession than previous Italian teams.

The Champions League winner was not as dominant in the semi-final against Spain, though, with Barcelona’s teenage sensation Pedri shining in midfield.

Only Chelsea star Jorginho and Pedri have covered more ground in the tournament than Phillips, coached by the famously demanding Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds.

England will be hoping Phillips can put his energy to good use and nullify the influence of Jorginho, as he did to Luka Modric for long spells of their opening match against Croatia.

Luke Shaw v Federico Chiesa– Two of the tournament’s star players will go head-to-head on Italy’s right wing.

Juventus youngster Chiesa has tormented defences with his pace and skill, scoring brilliant goals against Austria and Spain.

Left-back Luke Shaw will be the man tasked with stopping him, but the Manchester United defender has been an attacking threat too, making three assists.

Both teams will be hoping that their man in this duel can keep the other occupied defensively, rather than being left free to run into space.

Harry Maguire v Ciro Immobile– Italy’s front man Immobile has not fired on all cylinders so far at Euro 2020, but has still netted twice and has a brilliant goalscoring record for Lazio.

But he will have to be at his best to cause Maguire problems, with the England centre-back having impressed in every match since coming back from injury for the final group game.

Immobile may also be tasked with pressing Maguire to prevent him from playing the forward passes that have often launched England attacks since he returned to the team.

How Italy And England Reached The Euro 2020 Final

A combination of file pictures created on July 9, 2021 shows Italy’s forward Lorenzo Insigne (L) in London on July 6, 2021 and England’s forward Harry Kane in London on June 18, 2021. – England face Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Frank AUGSTEIN and Laurence GRIFFITHS / AFP)

 

 

How Italy and hosts England qualified for Sunday’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley:

Italy Qualifying

Group J

Italy                10 10 0 0 37  4 30

Finland              10  6 0 4 16 10 18

Greece               10  4 2 4 12 14 14

Bosnia & Herzegovina 10  4 1 5 20 17 13

Armenia              10  3 1 6 14 25 10

Liechtenstein        10  0 2 8  2 31  2

Final tournament

 

A combination of file pictures created on July 9, 2021 shows England’s coach Gareth Southgate (L) in London on July 7, 2021 and Italy’s coach Roberto Mancini in Rome on June 16, 2021. – England face Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Frank AUGSTEIN and Ettore FERRARI / AFP)

 

Group A

Italy          3 3 0 0 7 0 9

Wales          3 1 1 1 3 2 4

Switzerland    3 1 1 1 4 5 4

Turkey         3 0 0 3 1 8 0

June 11

A combination of file pictures created on July 9, 2021 shows Italy’s players (L) in Rome on June 11, 2021 and England’s players in Rome on July 3, 2021. – England face Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Andrew MEDICHINI and Alessandro GAROFALO / AFP)

In Rome

Turkey 0 Italy 3 (Merih Demiral 53-og, Immobile 66, Insigne 79)

June 16

In Rome

Italy 3 (Locatelli 26, 52, Immobile 89) Switzerland 0

June 20

 

A combination of file pictures created on July 9, 2021 shows Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (R) in London on July 6, 2021 and England’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in London on June 22, 2021. – England face Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Matt DUNHAM / AFP)

 

In Rome

Italy 1 (Pessina 39) Wales 0

Last 16

June 26

In London

Italy 2 (Chiesa 95, Pessina 105) Austria 1 (Kalajdzic 114) after extra time

Quarter-finals

July 2

In Munich

Belgium 1 (Lukaku 45+2) Italy 2 (Barella 31, Insigne 44)

Semi-finals

July 6

 

A combination of file pictures created on July 9, 2021 shows England supporters (L) holding an English flag reading “It’s coming home soon” in London on July 7, 2021 and Italy fans holding an Italian flag reading “It’s coming to Rome” in London on July 6, 2021. – England face Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Carl RECINE and Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

In London

Italy 1 (Chiesa 60) Spain 1 (Morata 80)

after extra time – Italy won 4-2 on penalties

England Qualifying

Group A

England           8 7 0 1 37  6 21

Czech Republic    8 5 0 3 13 11 15

Kosovo            8 3 2 3 13 16 11

Bulgaria          8 1 3 4  6 17  6

Montenegro        8 0 3 5  3 22  3

Final tournament

Group D

England          3 2 1 0 2 0 7

Croatia          3 1 1 1 4 3 4

Czech Republic   3 1 1 1 3 2 4

Scotland         3 0 1 2 1 5 1

June 13

In London

England 1 (Sterling 57) Croatia 0

June 18

In London

England 0 Scotland 0

June 22

In London

Czech Republic 0 England 1 (Sterling 12)

Last 16

June 29

In London

England 2 (Sterling 75, Kane 86) Germany 0

Quarter-finals

July 3

In Rome

Ukraine 0 England 4 (Kane 4, 50, Maguire 46, Henderson 63)

Semi-finals

July 7

In London

England 2 (Kjaer 39-og, Kane 104) Denmark 1 (Damsgaard 30) after extra time

Italy Beat Spain On Penalties To Reach Euro 2020 Final

Italy's forward Andrea Belotti shoots and scores in a penalty shootout during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium in London on July 6, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP
Italy’s forward Andrea Belotti shoots and scores in a penalty shootout during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium in London on July 6, 2021.
JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP

 

Italy beat Spain 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in a magnificent Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley on Tuesday, as Jorginho converted the decisive kick to take the Azzurri through to the final of a tournament in which they have been the outstanding side.

They were not always on top in this game though, with Spain the better team for long spells of an epic contest before Federico Chiesa, the Juventus forward, gave Italy the lead with a fabulous finish an hour into a match watched by a crowd of almost 58,000.

The much-maligned Alvaro Morata, who was dropped from the starting line-up, came off the bench to equalise with 10 minutes of normal time left.

No further scoring in extra time meant penalties again for Spain, who had beaten Switzerland in a shoot-out in the quarter-finals.

They had also beaten Italy on penalties at Euro 2008, but this time misses from Dani Olmo and then Morata saw Spain give up the advantage they had been handed when Manuel Locatelli failed with the first kick in the shoot-out.

The Italians celebrated at the end with a large contingent of their UK-based supporters, and a team that has been rejuvenated under Roberto Mancini continues to dream of winning a first European Championship since 1968.

Now unbeaten in 33 games, they go through to Sunday’s final to face either England or Denmark, who meet in Wednesday’s second last-four tie.

“I have to thank the players because they believed right from day one that we could do something incredible,” said Mancini.

“We haven’t yet done everything we need to though, there is still one step to go.”

It is nine years since Spain mauled Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev to win a third consecutive major tournament, and this was the fourth consecutive Euro in which these powerhouses had met.

Spain won the first two of those meetings, but the last two have now gone to Italy.

“It is not a sad night for me by any means,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique.

“We can go home knowing we competed and were among the best teams.”

Wembley comes to life 

Spain supporters cheer ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium in London on July 6, 2021. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP

 

This meeting took place in the chill of a damp July evening in London, but the atmosphere at Wembley was no damp squib.

There were no travelling supporters, given the obligatory quarantine for all visitors to the United Kingdom.

However, the large Spanish and Italian communities already in Britain meant a combined 20,000 fans of the two teams were in the 57,811-crowd allowed inside Wembley.

They added a noise and colour so sadly lacking at major sporting events since the pandemic began, and that provided the perfect stage.

The football itself was absorbing and of the highest quality, particularly in midfield where Italy’s outstanding trio of Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella met their match in Spain’s Sergio Busquets, Koke and the brilliant Pedri, a frightening talent at just 18.

Morata from hero to villain 


Spain’s forward Alvaro Morata (L) reacts at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium in London on July 6, 2021.
FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA / POOL / AFP

 

What the game lacked in the first half was drama in front of goal, although Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma made one crucial save to deny Olmo in the 25th minute.

Italy missed Leonardo Spinazzola, their outstanding left-back who suffered a torn Achilles tendon against Belgium in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile Luis Enrique dropped Morata and selected Mikel Oyarzabal to start on their right flank.

Spain had enjoyed the better of the game before Italy went ahead thanks to a goal of the highest quality.

A move that started with Donnarumma’s throw out saw Lorenzo Insigne play Ciro Immobile in behind.

Immobile was thwarted by Aymeric Laporte’s tackle but the ball fell to Chiesa and he picked his spot in the far corner of Unai Simon’s goal on his right foot.

The Italian fans, gathered en masse at that end of Wembley, erupted in celebration.

Spain reacted by sending on Morata and Gerard Moreno, and just as Italy looked to be seeing out the victory, Morata was the man who got the leveller.

After collecting the ball midway inside the opposition half, Morata played a one-two with Olmo as he cut through the defence and slotted in.

It was a deserved equaliser, and Spain had a spring in their step going into extra time, but they could not take that into the decisive shoot-out.

AFP

Italy Beat Belgium To Set Up Euro 2020 Semi-Final Against Spain

Italy players celebrate victory as Belgium players react at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between Belgium and Italy at the Allianz Arena in Munich on July 2, 2021. ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP
Italy players celebrate victory as Belgium players react at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between Belgium and Italy at the Allianz Arena in Munich on July 2, 2021.
ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP

 

Italy beat Belgium 2-1 in a pulsating Euro 2020 quarter-final in Munich on Friday to set up a last-four clash with Spain, who needed penalties to get the better of 10-man Switzerland.

Lorenzo Insigne’s brilliant strike proved to be the winner for Italy, who extended their national record unbeaten run to 32 matches.

Roberto Mancini’s men will face Spain in the first semi-final on Tuesday at Wembley.

“We deserved to win. The players were extraordinary,” Italy coach Mancini told Rai.

“It is clear that we suffered in the last 10 minutes because we were tired. They were good, we could have scored a few more goals.”

Belgium and Italy were the only sides to win all 10 games in qualifying and the only teams along with the Netherlands to win every match in the group stage.

The Azzurri, whose only European title came in 1968, started brightly and thought they had struck first when Leonardo Bonucci put the ball in the net, only for VAR to rule the goal out for offside.

Nicolo Barella did give Italy the lead in the 31st minute with a fine solo goal though, jinking between two defenders and hammering a shot into the far corner past Thibaut Courtois.

The Italians were in dreamland when Insigne curled home a wonderful long-range strike into the top corner shortly before half-time.

But Belgium gave themselves hope in first-half stoppage time through a Romelu Lukaku penalty after Jeremy Doku was shoved over in the box by Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

The Belgians had their moments in the second half, with Lukaku denied by some desperate last-ditch defending.

Doku fired over after a mazy run as the world’s top-ranked side piled on the pressure, but Italy held on to reach the semis for the sixth time.

Spain edge out valiant Swiss

Earlier on Friday, Spain, champions in 2008 and 2012, beat Switzerland 3-1 on penalties after their quarter-final tie in Saint Petersburg finished 1-1 at the end of extra time, with Mikel Oyarzabal scoring the winning kick.

Luis Enrique’s side appeared to be coasting as Jordi Alba’s shot deflected in off Denis Zakaria for an own goal to put Spain ahead in the eighth minute.

However, the Swiss had caused a sensation by eliminating world champions France in the last 16 and they battled back to equalise midway through the second half when a disastrous defensive mix-up between Spain centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres allowed Xherdan Shaqiri to score.

Switzerland then held on through extra time after midfielder Remo Freuler was sent off in the 77th minute for a challenge on Gerard Moreno.

They had converted all five of their penalties in the shoot-out against France and this time they were given a head-start when Sergio Busquets hit the post with Spain’s first effort.

Rodri also failed to score for Spain but Unai Simon saved from Fabian Schaer and Manuel Akanji before Ruben Vargas blazed over.

Virus concerns in Russia

Oyarzabal’s kick allowed Spain to go through and help banish the memory of their defeat on penalties in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup against the hosts in Russia.

“Unai (Simon), I’ve seen him stop a lot of penalties with Athletic Bilbao, and I see him training with us… he’s a specialist,” said Spain boss Luis Enrique.

Friday’s game went ahead in Saint Petersburg despite major concerns about a surge in coronavirus cases in the Russian city, fuelled by the Delta variant.

Earlier on Friday, Russia reported 679 coronavirus deaths over the previous 24 hours, setting a pandemic high of fatalities for the fourth day in a row. Saint Petersburg recorded 101 deaths.

An attendance of almost 25,000 watched the game in the Krestovsky Stadium, which has welcomed some of the largest crowds permitted at this pandemic-affected European Championship.

The remaining quarter-finals will be played on Saturday, when England — fresh from beating Germany — play Ukraine in Rome.

England may not have many fans in the Stadio Olimpico due to Italian coronavirus rules which mean all arrivals from the United Kingdom have to quarantine for five days.

Denmark play the Czech Republic in Baku exactly three weeks on from Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in the Danes’ first match at the tournament.

Eriksen was discharged from hospital less than a week after his collapse after having a defibrillator implanted to regulate his heart rate, and without him Kasper Hjulmand’s team have rallied to reach the last eight.

“We will play with the heart of Christian Eriksen. He is the heart of the team still and with that heart and without fear, we will try,” said Hjulmand.

 

AFP

Italy Beat Austria After Extra-Time To Reach Euro 2020 Quarter-Finals

Italy's midfielder Federico Chiesa (R) shoots to score the team's first goal during extra time in the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between Italy and Austria at Wembley Stadium in London on June 26, 2021. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP
Italy’s midfielder Federico Chiesa (R) shoots to score the team’s first goal during extra time in the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between Italy and Austria at Wembley Stadium in London on June 26, 2021. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

Italy overcame stubborn Austria 2-1 in extra-time at Wembley on Saturday to reach the Euro 2020 quarter-finals as Denmark breezed through by hammering Wales 4-0.

Roberto Mancini’s side, who earned rave reviews after their cruise through the group phase, were made to work hard for their win and had super subs Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina to thank.

The victory means Italy have now set a new record of 31 matches unbeaten, surpassing the mark set under two-time World Cup-winning coach Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.

Italy’s fans gave a rousing rendition of their national anthem and were the more enterprising team in the first half but Austria came back strongly after the break and cursed a VAR decision to rule out a goal for Marko Arnautovic 20 minutes into the second half.

Despite multiple attempts on goal from both sides, they were locked at 0-0 after 90 minutes in London.

But Chiesa made the crucial breakthrough five minutes into extra-time and another goal from Pessina gave Italy a two-goal cushion.

There was still time for late drama when Austria’s Sasa Kalajdzic pulled a goal back but Italy progress and will play the winners of Sunday’s tie between Belgium and holders Portugal.

Mancini, who has rebuilt the Azzurri after their humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, said his side “deserved” the result.

“In the first half we could have scored a couple of goals and then after the break we dropped off physically,” he told Italy’s public broadcaster RAI.

“We won thanks to the players who came on with the right mindset and resolved the situation. I knew it would be hard, maybe even more so than in the quarter-finals.”

Emotional win for Denmark

Earlier, Denmark eased into the quarter-finals with a 4-0 win over Wales in Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena thanks to two goals from Kasper Dolberg’s and late goals from Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite.

The Danes, carried by a wave of emotion, are the neutrals’ favourites after overcoming the trauma of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their opening game.

Denmark's players celebrate after winning the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between Wales and Denmark at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on June 26, 2021. Piroschka van de Wouw / POOL / AFP
Denmark’s players celebrate after winning the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between Wales and Denmark at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on June 26, 2021.
Piroschka van de Wouw / POOL / AFP

 

They will face the Netherlands or Czech Republic in the quarter-finals after winning a knockout tie at the European Championship for the first time since they stunned the continent by winning the tournament in 1992.

It is exactly 29 years since Denmark defeated Germany in the final in Gothenburg having famously only qualified because war-torn Yugoslavia disintegrated.

“It is hard to believe that this is reality,” said coach Kasper Hjulmand. “Johan Cruyff is one of my great inspirations and this was also Christian’s first home after leaving Denmark.

“I am really grateful for all the support we got, and the guys are true warriors. Being in the quarter-finals now is amazing.”

Wales, surprise semi-finalists at Euro 2016, found the majority of the stadium filled by Danish supporters, with fans barred from entering the Netherlands from Britain due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Robert Page’s side made a promising start as Gareth Bale drilled just wide from distance, but Dolberg curled Denmark ahead with a sumptuous strike shortly before the half hour.

The Nice forward, brought into the team as a replacement for Yussuf Poulsen, then pounced on a poor clearance by Neco Williams to fire home a second just after half-time.

Maehle added a third goal for Denmark two minutes from time before Harry Wilson was sent off for a lazy challenge on the Atalanta player.

Braithwaite rubbed further salt into Welsh wounds with a fourth goal in stoppage time as Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to score four in successive matches.

“We tried to play in the second half but made a mistake to concede which killed the momentum on our side,” said Wales and Real Madrid forward Bale.

“To finish how we did is disappointing… the boys are frustrated and angry, but I’d rather we go out like that, kicking and screaming, than laying off and doing nothing.”

 

AFP

Italy Raring To Go At Euro 2020 After World Cup Failure – Chiellini

In this handout image released by UEFA Italy’s defender Giorgio Chiellini holds a press conference at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on June 10, 2021 on the eve of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Italy. (Photo by Handout / UEFA / AFP)

 

Captain Giorgio Chiellini warned Italy were raring to get their Euro 2020 campaign going to prove that they are back among the elite three years after missing out on the World Cup finals.

“The desire to rebuild, to relive a tournament as a protagonist is immense,” said the 36-year-old Juventus defender on the eve of their Euro opener against Turkey in Rome.

Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, losing a play-off to Sweden, and have won the European trophy just once in 1968.

“The defeat in Milan against Sweden stuck with us, we can never forget it, but we managed to turn disappointment into enthusiasm and the desire to do well,” continued Chiellini.

“We can’t wait to get out there and relive those emotions.”

Chiellini is Italy’s most experienced player with 107 caps spanning 17 years.

He played in the side that lost the Euro 2012 final to Spain, but has never won a trophy with the ‘Azzurri’.

READ ALSO: UEFA Demands Ukraine Make Changes To ‘Political’ Jersey

“I believe to try to do something in this type of tournament it will also take a pinch of folly,” added the veteran defender.

Coach Roberto Mancini insisted the objective was also to provide entertainment in a tournament postponed for a year amid the pandemic.

“After everything that has happened I think it is important to entertain people,” said Mancini with the opening match played in front of 16,000 fans in a Stadio Olimpico at 25 percent capacity.

“Certainly it would have been better to have more people, also considering how the situation is evolving.

“If the Olimpico had been full they would have been the 12th player on the pitch, but in any case we are playing in Rome, and 16,000 people is already a first step.”

Mancini’s Italy are looking to extend their 27-match unbeaten run.

“I was confident three years ago, even more today, we’ve forged an excellent team spirit,” added Mancini.

“The first match is always the most difficult, but we must be free mentally and do our job and be different, this is our goal.

“We worked well, we have good players and we have created an excellent group.

“Our desire to live this European Championship as protagonists is strong.

“We would like to continue having fun and maybe get to London.”

AFP

Mancini Names Italy’s 23-Man Squad For Euros

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on March 25, 2021, Italy’s coach Roberto Mancini reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C qualification football match between Italy and Northern Ireland at The Ennio-Tardini Stadium in Parma. 
Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Midfield pair Marco Verratti and Stefano Sensi were both included in Italy’s squad for Euro 2020 named late Tuesday despite recent injuries.

Coach Roberto Mancini unveiled his 26-man squad at the midnight June 1 deadline set by UEFA ahead of the June 11-July 11 tournament.

There was also a surprise inclusion of Sassuolo forward Giacomo Raspadori, 21, who has not yet played for the senior national side.

Raspadori became available after Italy were eliminated from the European Under-21 Championship.

The centre-forward could provide an attacking option alongside Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti.

Verratti suffered knee ligament damage last month with his club, Paris Saint-Germain, estimating that six weeks’ recovery could be needed, which would rule the 28-year-old out of the group matches.

Sensi suffered a thigh muscle problem on the final day of the season playing for Serie A champions Inter Milan.

Veteran Juventus defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are also included, with Atalanta’s Rafael Toloi preferred to Roma’s Gianluca Mancini.

Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina and Napoli winger Matteo Politano were both left out.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Azzurri are looking for redemption in a tournament they won in 1968.

They kick off on June 11 against Turkey in Group A in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where they will also play Switzerland and Wales.

Italy squad:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea/ENG),  Alessandro Florenzi (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea/ENG), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA)

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo)

-AFP

Italians Aghast As Notorious Mafia Killer Released

Giovanni Brusca was arrested in 1996 for detonating a bomb that killed five people – including anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone.

 

 

Italians were outraged Tuesday at the release from prison of a ruthless mafia boss who assassinated Italy’s most famous prosecutor and dissolved a boy’s body in acid, among other crimes.

Giovanni Brusca, 64, was released Monday from Rome’s Rebibbia prison after serving a 25-year sentence, during which he became a state’s witness.

He will now serve four years of probation.

“Brusca freed — the cruelest boss,” wrote La Repubblica daily.

Brusca was a key figure within the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia group.

He detonated the bomb that killed Giovanni Falcone, Italy’s legendary prosecuting magistrate who dedicated his career to overthrowing the mafia, in 1992.

Falcone’s wife and three bodyguards were also killed in the attack after their car drove over a section of highway outside Palermo packed with 400 kilos (882 pounds) of explosives, detonated by Brusca nearby.

The wife of one of the bodyguards killed, Tina Montinaro, told Repubblica she was “indignant” at Brusca’s release.

“The state is against us — after 29 years we still don’t know the truth about the massacre and Giovanni Brusca, the man who destroyed my family, is free,” Montinaro said.

Falcone’s sister, Maria, told the paper she was distressed by the news but “it’s the law, a law moreover wanted by my brother and that should be respected.”

– Dissolved in acid –
Brusca — who went by the nickname ‘the Pig’ and who was arrested in 1996 — was one of the most loyal operators of the head of Cosa Nostra, Salvatore “Toto” Riina, and as a collaborator admitted to carrying out hundreds of murders, Italian news media reported.

One of the most grisly was the killing of 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a mafia turncoat, who was kidnapped in 1993 in retaliation for his father collaborating with authorities.

After being held in a house for over two years in squalid conditions, the boy was strangled and his body thrown into acid in what police have called “one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the Cosa Nostra”.

Protest about Brusca’s release also came from both sides of Italy’s political divide. The leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, called it a “punch in the stomach that leaves one speechless,” while far-right leader Matteo Salvini called Brusca a “wild beast” who “cannot get out of prison.”

Meanwhile, Claudio Fava, the president of Sicily’s anti-mafia commission, doubted the value of Brusca’s information provided to authorities about the 1992 attack on Falcone.

“Certainly Brusca could have said much more than he did, he could have contributed much more to get to the truth of that period,” said Fava.

“Certainly now he won’t do it anymore.”