Federico Chiesa confessed Spain ‘deserved their victory’ in the Nations League semi-final, but complained the first yellow card for Leonardo Bonucci was ‘pointless.’
The Azzurri were down to 10 men from the 43rd minute after Leonardo Bonucci received two yellow cards, and Ferran Torres completed his brace on the stroke of half-time.
Chiesa went on a rapid counter to set up the consolation goal for Lorenzo Pellegrini, but they were unable to complete the comeback.
“We lost after many games, we set a world record, so in the end it had to happen. As everyone said over the last few days, it had to happen eventually,” Chiesa told RAI Sport.
Italy had been unbeaten in three years, since October 2018, with a run of 28 wins and nine draws.
“Congratulations to Spain for a really good performance. We could’ve been more clinical at times, but Spain deserved their victory.
“We always have enthusiasm, determination and running to the very end for Italy and our coach. It’s the first defeat, but this won’t stop our momentum and we look forward to the next match.
“Obviously, it’s tough down to 10 men and Spain were already playing well when we had 11. Nonetheless, we had two really big chances in the first half and then conceded an avoidable goal on the stroke of half-time which allowed Spain to come out after the restart feeling really comfortable.”
Bonucci received the first yellow card for dissent, although he didn’t seem to be particularly aggressive in his protests, then a second for jumping with elbow raised on Sergio Busquets.
“I thought the dismissal was very severe, because I’ve never seen at international level such a pointless yellow card for dissent,” continued Chiesa.
“He was the captain, it was a mistake by the referee because the Spain player simply slipped, so the captain has the right to ask for more information.
“I’ve never seen two such soft yellow cards at this level.”