Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle goals gave Italy a 2-0 round of 16 victory over European champions Spain at the Stade de France.
That victory means the Azzurri will meet world champions Germany in the Euro 2016 quarterfinal on Saturday in Bordeaux.
Spain struggled to get going in a game that Italy could have won more comfortably had it not been for goalkeeper David De Gea’s heroics.
The Manchester United man, playing in his first international tournament, was called into action twice in the opening 10 minutes, first turning Graziano Pelle’s powerful header wide and then diving to push an Emanuele Giaccherini overhead kick onto the post.
Spain’s first real sight of goal didn’t come until the 27th minute when Andres Iniesta took a hopeful shot from outside the area that was easily gathered by Gianluigi Buffon. Following that chance Italy underlined their dominance when Mattia De Sciglio’s low cross into the box forced Sergio Ramos into a fortuitous clearance over his own bar from close range.
The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute when Pelle was fouled by Ramos. De Gea couldn’t hold Eder’s resulting free kick allowing Chiellini to score from close range and give Italy a deserved lead.
Giaccherini almost doubled Italy’s advantage in the 45th minute but his curling effort was pushed away from the top corner by De Gea.
Vicente del Bosque introduced 35-year-old Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz at half-time for Nolito and Spain begun the second period brighter than they did the first. Alvaro Morata was given a clear sight of goal from six-yards out but could only direct his header straight at Buffon.
But Italy soon wrestled back control of the game and De Gea was again forced to come to Spain’s rescue in the 53rd minute, saving well when Eder was sent clean through on goal by a neat Pelle flick.
Barely 10 minutes later Eder caused more chaos in La Roja‘s penalty area when he found De Sciglio in space but the AC Milan man couldn’t pick out a teammate with his pass.
Spanish pressure became more consistent as the minutes ticked by, Aduriz shooting wide after a fine dummy by Iniesta, then Cesc Fabregas playing through substitute Lucas Vazquez only to find the substitute marginally offside.
And it was Buffon who rose to the occasion in the dying minutes, denying first Iniesta then Gerard Pique before Pelle rounded off a superb individual performance with the goal to send his country through to the last eight.