Munich, July 3 (IANS) Relentless Italians scored twice in the first half and advanced past Belgium 2-1 in an intense see-saw Euro 2020 quarterfinal encounter in the Football Arena Munich here.
Belgium started brightly and earned their first chance with less than a minute into the game as Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had to defuse a dangerous attack from Romelu Lukaku on Friday, reports Xinhua.
Belgium were the more attacking side in the opening stages, but Italy came close to scoring with their first chance, but Leonardo Bonucci’s goal was ruled offside by VAR with 13 minutes gone.
At the other end, Donnarumma had to be on guard to deny Kevin De Bruyne’s promising strike on goal nine minutes later.
Eventually Italy broke the deadlock as Belgium failed to clear the ball from their area, allowing Nicolo Barella to slot home after shrugging off three defenders at the half-hour mark.
Italy picked up the pace and made it two on the scoreboards after Lorenzo Insigne gave the ball a couple of touches before smashing it past a hapless goalie Thibaut Courtois with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Belgium came to life just before the half-time whistle as Italy defender Giovanni di Lorenzo felled Jeremy Doku inside the box to earn a penalty. Lukaku stepped up and made no mistake to halve the deficit.
After the restart, Italy continued on the front foot while Belgium lacked penetration and ideas.
Belgium had to wait until the hour mark to create their next clear-cut opportunity, but Lukaku and Thorgan Hazard missed Nacer Chadli’s sweeping cross to the far post.
Robert Martinez’s side increased the pressure but couldn’t do much damage to Italy’s bulwark. Belgium’s golden and last chance came in the closing stages when Doku pulled a long-range effort just over the crossbar.
With the result, Italy progress into the semifinals where they will clash with Spain in Wembley on July 6.
“I don’t think we suffered too much in any moment of the game. To beat a team like Belgium you need a great performance by everybody, and this is exactly what happened today,” Italy head coach Roberto Mancini said.
“It hits hard. We had two opportunities, but their keeper made a good save and I think we gave the first goal away a bit too easily. It really could have gone either way, but Italy deserved to win here,” Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said.