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Spain’s Ferran Torres to play Nations League final despite injury against Italy

Italy Spain Nations League Soccer
(Image credit: Antonio Calanni)

Ferran Torres expects to be available for Sunday’s Nations League final after firing Spain to victory over European champions Italy before limping off injured.

Manchester City forward Torres claimed a first-half brace in Milan as La Roja recorded a 2-1 semi-final win to set up a showdown with France or Belgium.

Success for Luis Enrique’s men at the San Siro partially avenged the Euro 2020 semi-final exit suffered at the hands of their hosts, while ending Italy’s world-record 37-match unbeaten run.

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Spain coach Enrique said Torres’ withdrawal early in the second period was a precautionary measure.

And the in-form 21-year-old – who now has 12 international goals in 21 outings following two assists from Mikel Oyarzabal – already has his sights set on helping his country lift silverware.

“We knew it was a special match, we fell in the semi-finals of the European Championship and what better way to beat them at home in another semi-final,” said Torres, according to Marca.

“I am happy for the team. I believe that perseverance and training make the results arrive.

“I had a few minor annoyances (with injury) but I’m already thinking about the final.”

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Enrique added: “I’m not sure how Ferran will be.

“He had a knock in the first half and another in the second half so we decided to take no risks.”

Italy played more than half of the match a man down after captain Leonardo Bonucci was sent off for a second yellow card in the 42nd minute.

Torres had already volleyed Spain in front at that stage and doubled the advantage with a header in first-half added time, before being withdrawn.

Italy claimed a 83rd-minute consolation on the counter-attack through substitute Lorenzo Pellegrini but could not prevent a first competitive home defeat this century, in addition to a maiden loss at the San Siro.

Lorenzo Pellegrini gave Italy late hope

Lorenzo Pellegrini gave Italy late hope (Marco Bertorello/Pool via AP)

Lorenzo Insigne wasted a golden chance to equalise at 1-0, while Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa each struck the woodwork.

Spain’s starting XI included a debut for Barcelona midfielder Gavi, who became his country’s youngest senior international at the age of 17 years and 62 days, breaking a record held by Angel Zubieta since 1936.

Coach Enrique continued:  “The game played out beautifully for us but that was a match of two rivals going at it hammer and tongs with their best strengths on show.

“My team looked dangerous throughout, we pressed well and I’m pretty happy.

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“With only a session-and-a-half of training behind us, this wasn’t easy but the players’ attitude was sensational.

“I think that Italy setting a world record until tonight was incredible – for how long they went unbeaten. But this is just one game for us, not a generation-marking win.”

The two nations took to the field exactly three months on from their pulsating European Championship encounter at Wembley, which Italy ultimately edged on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

Robert Mancini made two changes to the team which began the subsequent final success over England, with Alessandro Bastoni preferred to Giorgio Chiellini in defence, while Bernardeschi replaced the injured Ciro Immobile in attack.

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, second right, was sent off in Milan

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, second right, was sent off in Milan (Marco Bertorello/Pool via AP)

Skipper Bonucci received an initial caution from Russian referee Sergei Karasev for dissent before picking up a costly second booking for catching Sergio Busquets in the neck with a raised arm.

Italy coach Mancini said: “Football games are like this. Sometimes certain details can decide them.

“The first half could have ended 1-1 easily. Spain play very well technically, we should have been more careful in not conceding the second before the end of the half.

“It is very difficult to face Spain’s ball possession with 11 players, so you can just imagine (trying to do so) with 10.”