Spain 2-1 Italy: Joselu winner sends La Roja to Nations League final

Joselu scored a late winner as Spain beat Italy to set up a Nations League final against Croatia on Sunday.

Yeremy Pino won the ball off Italy legend Leonardo Bonucci outside his own box before firing in Spain’s opener in Enschede, Netherlands.

Ciro Immobile equalised for Italy with a penalty after Spain debutant Robin le Normand handled in the box.

Substitute Joselu pounced from close range after Rodri’s deflected shot to send Spain to the Rotterdam final.

“Now the most important thing is that we win this trophy,” said midfielder Rodri, who played a full 90 minutes five days after scoring the winner for Manchester City in the Champions League final.

“It’s been a long time without a trophy so that’s the opportunity we have on Sunday night.”

Spain’s last major trophy was the 2012 European Championship.

La Roja, who lost the 2021 Nations League final to France, face a Croatia side bidding to win their country’s first international trophy.

Meanwhile Italy must face the Netherlands in the Nations League third-placed play-off earlier on Sunday.

Spain get a deserved win to boost De la Fuente

Neither side is having a great time of it.

Morocco knocked Spain out of the World Cup in the last 16, while Italy did not even reach the tournament.

Both sides have already lost Euro 2024 qualifiers, with England beating Roberto Mancini’s Italy and Scotland stunning Spain.

But this result is a major lift for Spain boss Luis de la Fuente, who replaced Luis Enrique after the World Cup following a decade in charge of his country’s youth teams.

It was a fully deserved win for La Roja, who had several notable selections.

Le Normand, 26, was making his international debut, a month after gaining Spanish citizenship through his seven years living in the country while playing for Real Sociedad. He partnered Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte, who was also born in France, at the back.

And Sevilla right-back Jesus Navas, 37, made his first international appearance since 2020.

“I’m super-pleased, proud for the group but happy for the coach – that’s how I feel right now when we can say we’re in the final,” said Navas.

“Our attitude and the way we stuck at things was marvellous too.

“The group worked hard, everyone put everything into it but I’m very pleased for Joselu that it was him who got the winning goal.”

Spain followed plan ‘to the letter’

Spain had got off to an ideal start when Pino caught legendary Italy captain Bonucci dawdling before beating Gianluigi Donnarumma.

But Italy were level when Nicolo Zaniolo volleyed the ball off Le Normand’s arm with Immobile slotting in the penalty.

Davide Frattesi thought he had put Italy ahead from Jorginho’s pass but his goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside.

Spain completely dominated the second half with Alvaro Morata and Rodri having good chances.

But eventually it was Joselu who settled the game – four minutes after replacing Morata – from close range after Rodri’s effort took two ricochets off Italian defenders.

“The way I’d describe this triumph is satisfaction, and pride,” said De la Fuente.

“We played a really high-level match. We told the players pre-match what we wanted, and they followed it to the letter.

“We saw very talented players adding their ability to this win and as a result, we are delighted.”

From Stoke to semi-final hero

Joselu’s winner continues a remarkable late-career rise for the Espanyol striker.

The 33-year-old only made his international debut in March and has now scored three goals in three appearances.

He was the third top scorer in La Liga this season with 16 goals, only behind Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, despite his team being relegated.

Joselu has come a long way since netting four goals in 22 Premier League games for Stoke and then six in 46 league games for Newcastle before returning home in 2019.



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 23Simón
  • 22Navas
  • 3Le Normand
  • 14Laporte
  • 18AlbaBooked at 45mins
  • 16Rodri
  • 6MerinoSubstituted forRuizat 74′minutes
  • 19RodrigoSubstituted forAsensioat 45′minutes
  • 9GaviBooked at 57minsSubstituted forCanalesat 68′minutes
  • 15PinoSubstituted forAnsu Fatiat 74′minutes
  • 7MorataBooked at 83minsSubstituted forJoseluat 84′minutes


  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 2Carvajal Ramos
  • 4Nacho
  • 5Zubimendi
  • 8Ruiz
  • 10Asensio
  • 11Canales
  • 12Ansu Fati
  • 13Raya
  • 17García Torres
  • 20Joselu
  • 21Olmo Carvajal


Formation 3-5-2

  • 1G Donnarumma
  • 13Tolói
  • 19BonucciSubstituted forDarmianat 45′minutes
  • 15Acerbi
  • 2Di Lorenzo
  • 7FrattesiSubstituted forVerrattiat 76′minutes
  • 8JorginhoSubstituted forCristanteat 61′minutes
  • 18Barella
  • 4SpinazzolaSubstituted forDimarcoat 45′minutes
  • 11ZanioloBooked at 90mins
  • 17ImmobileBooked at 38minsSubstituted forChiesaat 60′minutes


  • 3Dimarco
  • 5Darmian
  • 6Verratti
  • 9Retegui
  • 10Pellegrini
  • 12Meret
  • 14Chiesa
  • 16Cristante
  • 20Gnonto
  • 21Vicario
  • 22Raspadori
  • 23Buongiorno

Slavko Vincic

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Match ends, Spain 2, Italy 1.

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