Spain secured their place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 with a game to spare, following a 1-0 victory over Italy on Thursday. The win not only ensured that La Roja advanced as Group B winners but also underscored their dominance in the tournament. The match, held at Gelsenkirchen, saw Riccardo Calafiori score an own goal nine minutes into the second half, which proved to be the decisive moment.

Despite the narrow scoreline, Spain’s performance was anything but close. They controlled the game from start to finish, much like their opening round demolition of Croatia. By halftime, it was clear that Spain was the superior team, even though the scoreboard did not fully reflect their dominance.

VERIFIED: Nigerians can now earn US Dollars with premium domains just like Americans, acquire for as low as $1200 and you profit $19000 (₦23million). Click here to start.

Nico Williams emerged as the standout player for Spain, consistently outplaying Napoli’s right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo. Williams’ relentless pressure and skillful play led to the crucial moment of the match. His precise cross forced Calafiori into an awkward position, resulting in the own goal that ultimately separated the two sides.

Luis de la Fuente’s squad now sits comfortably at the top of Group B with a perfect six points. They will face Albania on Monday, already assured of their place in the knockout stages. The Spanish team is displaying the kind of form that makes them look like potential champions, with a blend of youthful energy and tactical discipline that has stifled their opponents.

For Italy, the match was a sobering experience. Despite having the talent and pedigree, the Azzurri were unable to muster a single shot on target throughout the game. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy’s goalkeeper, was kept busy as Spain relentlessly attacked, but even his brilliance couldn’t save Italy from defeat. The match echoed the Euro 2012 final, where Spain famously routed Italy 4-0, marking the pinnacle of their tiki-taka style of play.

However, all is not lost for Luciano Spalletti’s Italy. They remain second in the group with three points, and a draw against Croatia on Monday will be sufficient to secure their progression to the knockout rounds. This upcoming match will be crucial for the Azzurri, as they seek to regroup and demonstrate the resilience and quality expected from them.

Spain’s qualification with a game in hand highlights their resurgence on the international stage. Under de la Fuente, they have combined the traditional Spanish emphasis on possession with a more direct and dynamic approach. This has been particularly evident in the performances of players like Williams, who have added a new dimension to Spain’s attack.

Meanwhile, Italy must reflect on their shortcomings against Spain and find a way to reignite their campaign. Spalletti will need to address the lack of offensive threat and ensure his team can compete more effectively against Croatia. The stakes are high, and Italy’s ability to respond will determine their fate in this tournament.

As the group stages draw to a close, the picture is becoming clearer. Spain’s assured progress and Italy’s precarious position set the stage for an intriguing final round of matches. With potential drama on the horizon, fans can expect thrilling football as teams vie for a place in the knockout rounds of Euro 2024.