Ferran Torres resumed his prolific streak for Spain with two excellent goals in the UEFA Nations League semi-final, ending Italy’s 37-match unbeaten record.
Torres scored twice in the first half as Spain defeated Italy 2-1, despite a late goal from the 10-man Italians.
The Euro 2020 champions were frequently outclassed by a resurgent Spanish side, and when Torres scored his first goal of the evening on 17 minutes, it was precisely what Luis Enrique’s side deserved.
With many in the San Siro crowd jeering Gianluigi Donnarumma for leaving Serie A to join Paris Saint-Germain, there was an uneasiness in the air that appeared to impact the Italy players.
And when Mikel Oyarzabal darted down the left flank, his waste-high cross into the box was beautifully directed into the bottom right corner on the volley by Torres, who scored his 11th international goal in his country’s 21st appearance.
His mobility and speed revealed once again what a gifted player the City attacker is.
Torres was then engaged again seconds after Italy resumed play, as the ball eventually made its way to Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, whose shot caused Donnarumma to fumble onto the post and Leonardo Bonucci to hook the ball clear.
The hosts’ ambitions were dealt a severe setback five minutes before halftime when Bonucci was sent off for a second yellow card.
Without a doubt, the sour atmosphere in Milan was disturbing the home side, and Torres struck twice in first half added time.
Torres skillfully directed his header into the left corner, fooling Donnarumma, to make it 2-0 and up his tally to an even more amazing 12 in 21 appearances.
This also brought him even with Erling Braut Haaland as the leading scorer in the Nations League with six goals.
Torres once again displayed amazing awareness and movement as his international reputation continues to grow.
Oyarzabal, who plays opposite renowned City midfielder David Silva at Sociedad, has scored twice for the man who wore Silva’s coveted No.21 shirt at City!
And Oyarzabal’s Spain number is 21…
Aymeric Laporte was seldom bothered as Italy lacked the flair and dynamism that brought England’s silverware ambitions to an end last summer.
Rodrigo, who is in fine form, was benched for the game.
Torres’ second-half came to an end after a hefty challenge from Chelsea’s Jorginho ruined dreams of another international hat-trick, albeit the injury did not appear to be too serious.
For significant spells, Spain were the superior team, pressing high and moving the ball rapidly against an Italian side that was frequently outplayed and out of sorts.
To their credit, the Italians rallied in the closing stages, with Lorenzo Pellegrini cutting the score – but it was too little, too late.
La Roja will now face the victor of Sunday’s semifinal between Belgium and France.
It was the Azzurri’s first defeat at the San Siro and only Roberto Mancini’s third defeat in 43 matches as Italy coach.