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Slick Spain expose Italy's limitations

Spain 3-0 Italy
Luis Milla's side confirmed their place at the top of Group B with a commanding defeat of Italy at the Stade du Hazé.

Spain continued to impress at this year's UEFA European Under-19 Championship as Luis Milla's side swept aside Italy to advance to the semi-finals, eliminating their opponents in the process.

First-half goals from Rúben Rochina and Daniel Pacheco and an audacious Ezequiel Calvente penalty after the break means Spain head into a last-four encounter with Group A runners-up England next Tuesday in fine stead.

Following earlier victories against Croatia and Portugal, Spain were guaranteed top spot in Group B regardless of the outcome in Flers. Milla duly made six changes to his starting lineup, yet the intensity of his side's approach altered little. Thiago Alcántara issued the first warning in the third minute, blasting narrowly wide of Simone Colombi's upright. The Azzurrini responded shortly afterwards with Mattia Destro firing against the legs of Spain goalkeeper Aitor.

The rhythm of the game was being controlled by Spain's quick passing and movement and the four-time winners almost took the lead after a quarter of an hour with Pacheco expertly spinning to send in a shot from distance that struck the upright and bounced back against the hand of Colombi. The keeper was soon picking the ball out of his net, however, a defensive mix-up between Riccardo Brosco and Andrea Adamo allowing the grateful Rochina to thump in.

There was more defensive woe for Massimo Piscedda's side in the 23rd minute when Alessandro Crescenzi's loose pass caused Luca Caldirola to scramble a clearance straight to Pacheco, who rolled the ball in for his third goal of the tournament.

Italy looked to push forward after the break but any hopes of a recovery were dashed in the 57th minute when substitute Calvente was upended in the area by Crescenzi and picked himself up to cheekily convert the penalty with his standing foot. Destro spurned a further opportunity midway through the half while Fabio Borini sent a shot straight at Aitor when well placed, but that was as good as it got for Italy.

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