Football Features

Spain 2-1 Italy: Player ratings as Joselu pops up once again to fire La Roja to Nations League final

By Ben Green

Published: 21:58, 15 June 2023

Spain have booked their ticket to the Nations League final against Croatia after beating Italy 2-1 in the semi-final.

Luis de la Fuente’s men found the breakthrough early on through Yeremy Pino’s early press and cool finish, before Ciro Immobile restore parity from the spot less than 10 minutes later.

The match was delicately-poised from there and appeared to be heading to extra time, before ‘super sub’ Joselu poked home from close range in the dying embers to secure Spain a vital triumph.

Here is how the players rated after at De Grolsch Veste:

Spain

Unai Simon – 7 – Made a quality reflex save on Frattesi after the restart to keep his side in the game and protect his net. Other than the penalty, which was well executed by Immobile, Simon appeared unfazed between the sticks.

Jesus Navas – 7 – A supreme athlete, Navas — who only recently played in the Europa League final — charged forward with some lung-busting runs that would make a full-back 10 years is junior look Olympian.

Robin Le Normand – 6 – Looked shaky and nervous in the first half in what was his debut, conceding an unlucky penalty in the process. But he recovered to hold his own after the restart and ended the game looking solid.


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Aymeric Laporte – 6 – Italy enjoyed plenty of defence-splitting success in the opening 45 minutes as Laporte and Le Normand struggled to form a cohesive link-up. But, he too recovered to make some tremendous interceptions and hold the fort.

Jordi Alba – 7 – Stopped a certain goal on the 72nd minute to deny an onrushing Di Lorenzo, and that was the tale of his game. The age-defying left-back was never shy to burst forward and put his body on the line further back.

Rodri – 8 – A domineering presence. The Treble-winning midfielder was the personification of calm in this often erratic affair. He was press-resistant when Italy closed him down, and exuded confidence with his passing. And just like Istanbul, it was his thumping shot that led to the winner.

Mikel Merino – 7 – Very crisp, clean and precise with his passing patterns. The midfield metronome formed a tempo-setting partnership with Rodri and the duo really set to work after the restart to take control of the game.

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Gavi – 7 – Delightful to watch with his sprightly movement, jinking runs and sophisticated ball playing. He was at the hub of Spain’s creative drive, popping up ‘in the hole’ and the half space to try and make things happen for his nation. It was his initial press that led to Bonucci’s error and Spain’s opener. Leading from the front.

Rodrigo – 4 – Had a very uninspiring first half, in which he broke down several key attacking opportunities for Spain, looking completely out-of-sync with his frontline team-mates. The Leeds United forward was subsequently hooked at the break.

Yeremy Pino – 7 – Worked wonders in those opening minutes to put huge pressure on Italy’s backline and force the usually-reliable Bonucci into a mistake. The menacing winger nicked the ball off Bonucci, before accurately tucking home past Donnarumma.

Alvaro Morata – 5 – The skipper was brilliant at times with his back-to-goal exploits and link-up play, but exceptionally wasteful and not on board with the vision of his attacking team-mates. There were one too many loose touches, overcooked passes and scuffed shots.

Substitutes:

Marco Asensio (for Rodrigo 45′) – 6 – Looked driven and determined when he entered the fray, offering plenty of creative zip and tenacity.

Sergio Canales (for Gavi 68′) – 6 – Gave an injection of energy and renewed vigour to keep Spain ticking over.

Fabian Ruiz (for Merino 74′) – 6 – Another who came on and did exactly what was expected of him.

Ansu Fati (for Pino 74′) – 6 – Lively, spontaneous and involved, the Barca forward looked to make things happen upon his introduction.

Joselu (for Morata 84′) – 7 – An instinctive finish from the penalty-box assassin, who has once again provided the goods for his nation.

Italy

Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6 – Produced a great save on Merino just after the restart, but his pass to Bonuccci was risky and he flapped at a couple of crosses.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 6 – Ever willing to get forward and involve himself in attacking transitions, the wing-back was part of a very entertaining battle on the flank with Pino and Alba.

Rafael Toloi – 6 – Made some superb tackles and put his body on the line, but it ultimately wasn’t enough as Spain found two breakthroughs.

Leonardo Bonucci – 4 – Made an absolute hash of Spain’s opening goal as Pino stole the ball off him under pressure. And he didn’t really recover, looking out-of-pace with the game before coming off at half-time.

Francesco Acerbi – 6 – Another, like Toloi, who threw his body at everything, but in the decisive moments, Spain pounced.


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Leonardo Spinazzola – 5 – Charged forward enough, but his end product was largely missing as he overcooked numerous crosses.

Jorginho – 6 – Bossed much of the first half and played a defence-splitting pass for Frattesi’s disallowed goal, which was just a pure delight to witness — regardless of the end result. However, his influence significantly waned after the restart and he was eventually taken off by Mancini on the hour mark.

Davide Frattesi – 7 – Had a well-taken goal chalked off but missed an absolute sitter around the hour mark. Either side of Simon and it’s a goal, but Sassuolo midfielder managed to hit the ball down the middle and at a good height. Still, that threat was Italy’s best hope of producing something special.

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Nicolo Barella – 6 – Showcased his usual repertoire of shimmies and pirouettes, but ultimately not enough as Spain grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.

Nicolo Zaniolo – 6 – Anonymous for large spells, but popped up in some crucial moments, not least winning the penalty. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t enough to really trouble Spain’s backline on a consistent basis throughout the 90 minutes.

Ciro Immobile – 7 – Gave the Spanish defence plenty to ponder with his movement and deceptive runs — and took his penalty very well to bring Italy back into the game.

Substitutes:

Matteo Darmian (for Bonucci 45′) – 7 – Charged into challenges and played like his life depended on it. He brought a real aggression and industry upon his introduction.

Federico Dimarco (for Spinazzola 45′) – 6 – Largely anonymous and not influential.

Federico Chiesa (for Immobile 60′) – 6 – Lively and energetic, but not consistent enough.

Bryan Cristante (for Jorginho 60′) – 6 – Changed the dynamic shortly after coming on, but his influence diminished quickly.

Marco Verratti (for Frattesi 76′) – N/A – Came on for the final 15 minutes.