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Spain end Italy's record unbeaten run to reach fin

UEFA Nations League: Gavi enters the history books as Spain end Italy's record unbeaten run to reach final

October 6, 2021 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
The young Barcelona midfielder secured a new milestone as his side ended the Azzurri's remarkable streak.

At the age of just 17 years and 62 days old, Barcelona starlet Gavi became the youngest debutant in the history of the Spanish national team as La Roja reached the final of the UEFA Nations Cup at the expense of Italy's incredible unbeaten run. Luis Enrique's men put together a remarkable performance to secure a 2-1 win over the 10-men Azzurri, ending the longest unbeaten streak by a country inside San Siro on Wednesday night. 

It had been more than two years since another country had defeated Italy's national squad and many would argue that it had been a long time coming for the 2006 FIFA World Cup winners. The thrilling affair in Milan started off with Manchester City forward Ferran Torres opening the scoring for the visitors under just 17 minutes. Little did the host know their their problems will be compounded, with skipper Leonardo Bonucci seeing red for a poor challenge on Sergio Busquets. 

Having a been given the upper hand with a player more than the Azzurri, Spain added to their tally right on the stroke of half-time, with the scorer of their first goal registering his second. A different Italian side showed up for the second half but the resilience of the Spaniards remain intact and prevented them from causing any significant damage. Nevertheless, the opportunity to set the tone for a grande finale did not elude the host as Lorenzo Pellegrini successfully linked up with Federico Chiesa for their consolation.

With the result, Italy failed to progress to the final stage of the competition where they could have met either France of Belgium. The European champions' world-record run of 37 matches also came to an end. It has been more than three years since Mancini's men last picked a defeat, one which came in defeatt to Portugal in September 2018.

Meanwhile, Gavi's inclusion meant that he has now overtaken Angel Zubieta as the youngest-ever starter for them. The latter made his debut with La Roja in 1936 at the age of 17 years and 284 days. The midfielder is the latest addition to the new crop of young Barcelona stars including Pedri and Ansu Fati coming into the Spanish senior team.


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