Cheat sheet: Italy's tactical masterclass ends Spain's Euro defence early


Italy did what Italy do best as they beat Spain 2-0 to send the defending champions out of Euro 2016 at the last-16 stage.

Antonio Conte's side produced a tactical masterclass that completely blunted Spain's fluidity - and earned a measure of revenge for their 4-0 defeat in the Euro 2012 final - as goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle late on secured a quarter-final against Germany.

Italy might have won by more if it was not for the heroics of Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, who was at some fault for Chiellini's 33rd-minute goal as he spilled Eder's powerful low free-kick and Chiellini was quickest to react.

Key moments


David De Gea save (seven minutes). De Gea made a superb save low to his right after Pelle outjumped the defence and got his head to a free-kick just outside the six-yard box. It was the first of a number of impressive saves from the Manchester United shot-stopper.

Giorgio Chiellini taps in opener. (33 minutes). Italy took a deserved lead when De Gea spilled Eder's powerful free-kick and the big defender raced in to stab home.

Gianluigi Buffon saves from Gerard Pique (88 minutes). The Italy goalkeeper might be in the winter of his career but he showed he has lost none of his athleticism or reactions as he got down quickly to keep out Pique's shovelled strike on goal after the ball broke to him. A minute later Graziano Pelle iced the game.

Was it the right result?

Italy's Giorgio Chiellini (left) celebrates with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon
(Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

Too right it was. It's one of international football's cliches that Italy are a "tournament team" and this performance only reinforced that badge of honour. The Italians hardly boast the superstar names of their rivals but the likes of Sunderland midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini and Southampton striker Graziano Pelle - not to mention a watertight defence - were exceptional.

Who played well?

Italy players celebrate
(Martin Meissner/AP/PA)

We're giving this to the whole Italy team. It truly was a team performance and the sort of display that will make world champions Germany - who don't have a great record against the Azzurri - worried about their chances.

Who played badly?

Spain's Cesc Fabregas looks dejected
(Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

Spain's midfield. Their playmakers hardly got a touch as Italy's midfield swarmed all around them and never let them have time to breathe. Andres Inietsa and Cesc Fabregas will go back to club football with a point to prove.

Tactics check

Chelsea fans will be drooling over this. Conte has crafted a well-oiled machine that might be short on out-and-out superstar names but full of endeavour. It was the complete opposite at Stamford Bridge last season.

Key stat

Confirmation that Spain just never got going, if we needed it. It got no better after the break.

Picture of the day

Italy coach Antonio Conte
(Martin Meissner/AP/PA)

We could have picked any number of pictures of the Italy boss. Conte was very animated on the touchline all game.

What's next?

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque
(Manu Fernandez/AP/PA)

It doesn't get any easier for Italy in the quarter-finals where world champions Germany await. For Spain their title defence is over and you have to wonder whether boss Vicente del Bosque's decorated 114-match spell in charge has just come to an end.