Italy lost 3-1 to Spain in the semi-final of the European U21 Championship at the Krakow Stadium in with Saul Niguaz putting the Azzurrini to the sword with a wonderful hat-trick.
The Atletico Madrid man opened the scoring with a lovely left footed shot. Federico Bernardeschi equalised out of nowhere, after the Azzurrini went down to 10 men following Roberto Gagliardini’s sending off.
Saul found the back of the net again, making the most of Gigio Donnarumma’s hesitation, then bagging another for his hat-trick.
Gianluigi Donnarumma – 4.5
A couple of important interventions on some corner kicks to start off with, then a few easy saves, but nothing he could do on Saul’s opener. He should have done better on Spain’s second, but his hesitation caused him to arrive late on the shot. Then unable to stop Spain’s third. More was needed from him on such a night.
Davide Calabria – 6
The duel with Gerard Deulofeu was key, and not an easy one for Calabria, as the Spaniard’s pace and strength created problems from the start. He responded very well. His move to the right flank proved useful to the Azzurrini, as he often managed to cross and delivered some interesting passes. Probably the best of the back line in a very difficult night.
Daniele Rugani – 5.5
Solid start, always in the right place at the right time. Too slow on Saul’s first goal, a quicker reaction was needed. As the game went on he was became susceptible to the opponents’ technique and pace, resulting in him struggling in the final two minutes.
Mattia Caldara – 5.5
An absolutely crucial save in the first half on a Deulofeu cross, as well as great positioning throughout. When exposed, he had issues like Rugani, and was unable to stop the fast Spanish strikers.
Antonio Barreca – 5.5
A difficult task to control Marco Asensio, and even harder when Deulofeu swapped sides. This meant his offensive contribution was basically non-existent in the first half, then improved gradually in the second, but not enough to cause any issue to Spain.
Marco Benassi – 5.5
Great start by him and the whole midfield, dominating the duels and imposing his physical strength over the Spanish, he then started struggling against the Spaniards’ superior technique. Tried to use the physical side, including being shown the yellow card. Disappeared completely in the final 20 minutes.
Roberto Gagliardini – 4.5
Battling in midfield was his job, helping the full-backs and the centre-backs against Spain’s rapid strikers. He managed overall, until his second yellow card that got him sent off. He should have thought twice on an avoidable foul. Two yellows in eight minutes. Not good enough.
Lorenzo Pellegrini – 6
Started off on the quiet side, then fired the first, real, proper shot on target, which brought a save from the keeper. A warrior in the middle like his teammates in the first half, then after Gagliardini’s red card he started was caused problems by Spain’s passing game and thus made some mistakes. Without Gagliardini, Saul became unstoppable.
Federico Bernardeschi -5.5
Someone is still looking for the ball he shot out of the stadium after five minutes. He tried his best to help Calabria in defence, also trying his luck up front with several shots. Held the ball too often, instead of finding his teammates, and often losing it. He scored the equaliser – thanks to some luck – though it was nevertheless a fundamental goal.
Andrea Petagna – 4.5
Was isolated for most of the first half, bar a couple touches, and was not in the heart of the penalty area when needed the most – but that’s how he always plays. More mistakes in the second half than the first, as he struggled to hold the ball up and help the team.
Federico Chiesa – 5
He created Italy’s first chance, with the usual determination, cutting in from the left and shooting with his right foot. Forced to defend at times, on Spain’s opener more was needed from him. He gradually disappeared from the pitch, becoming useless in the second half.
Manuel Locatelli – 5.5
The AC Milan regista came on to replace Gagliardini, but was unable to find the right space to help the team.
Alberto Cerri – 5
Came on only to get a yellow card shown in his direction.
Luca Garritano – N/A