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The Italy national football team's 37-match unbeaten streak came to an end in the wee hours of Thursday as Spain defeated them 2-1 in a thrilling encounter at the San Siro to storm into the UEFA Nations League final.

Manchester City's Ferran Torres scored a brace as La Roja took partial revenge for their Euro 2020 semi-final penalty shootout defeat against the eventual champions Italy and will face either world champions France or Belgium, who lock horns on Friday at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

The Italian team had previously played a draw against Switzerland on September 6 which broke the 35-match unbeaten run record that was shared by Brazil (1993-1996) and Spain (2007-2009) for the longest unbeaten run in international football. The Azzurri have now set an international record by extending their unbeaten run to 37 matches.

Earlier on September 3, the Italians were held to a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria in their World Cup qualifier encounter since returning to action after winning the UEFA European Championship in July.

Juventus winger Federico Chiesa scored a stunning goal in the 16th minute to give the Italians a 1-0 lead in the World Cup qualifier. However, Atanas Iliev levelled against the run of play five minutes before the break. 

Interestingly, the last time Roberto Mancini's Italy had lost a game was on September 10, 2018, when Andre Silva’s 48th minute strike was enough for Portugal to win 1-0 in the group stage of the UEFA Nations League. The Italians have lost just three matches since Mancini took charge of the national team.

It was their 2-1 win over Austria in the Euro 2020 round of 16 that saw Italy extend their unbeaten run to a record 31 games, surpassing the previous record set by Vittorio Pozzo’s Italian team of the 1930s, which was an extremely successful era for the Azzurri. 

Under Pozzo, Italy went unbeaten between October 1935 and July 1939. During this time, they won a second successive World Cup and the gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Longest unbeaten run in international football

Team Unbeaten run Years
Italy 37 2018-2021
Brazil 35 1993-1996
Spain 35 2007-2009
Argentina 31 1991-1993
Italy 30 1935-1939

Italy set national record for longest run without conceding

On a day when the Italian side was largely troubled by Austria, they managed to break another one of their own records for not conceding a goal. After their round of 16 clash against Austria ended 0-0 in normal time, the Italian team completed 1,168 minutes without conceding a goal and set a new national record.

However, their record for the longest run without conceding a goal ended a mere 25 minutes later when Sasa Kalajdzic beat Gianluigi Donnarumma by heading the ball into Italy’s net in extra time. Before that, the Netherlands were the last team to score against Italy and they did so in a Nations League match on October 14, 2020.

The previous record for Italy not conceding a goal was set under Ferruccio Valcareggi when goalkeeper Dino Zoff went 1143 minutes without conceding a goal.

Featured Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

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