Italy have been deserved winners after producing a assured show to beat Belgium 2-1 in a tense Euro 2020 quarter-final in Munich.
Nicolo Barella’s opener and Lorenzo Insigne’s beautiful strike opened up a two-goal lead earlier than Romelu Lukaku equalised earlier than half-time in an exciting contest.
Lukaku did come near an equaliser and with Kevin De Bruyne on the pitch, Belgium have been at all times a hazard to Roberto Mancini’s aspect however the second objective simply wouldn’t come.
Italy can stay up for a semi-final showdown with Spain at Wembley, whereas Belgium are left to wonder if the second has handed for the so-called golden era.
The way it occurred
Lukaku had given an early warning of his risk within the opening moments but it surely was Italy who seemed to have taken the lead by means of Leonardo Bonucci just for VAR to disclaim him.
The defender diverted the ball into the online on the far put up and celebrated wildly however replays confirmed there had been a contact from Giovanni Di Lorenzo inflicting him to be offside.
Italy have been the extra fluid crew however De Bruyne quickly provided a reminder of the risk – his left-footed shot drawing a sensational save from Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The goalkeeper’s proper hand was compelled into motion once more when Lukaku tried to measure a end into the nook however Donnarumma was as much as the problem as soon as extra.
These saves proved much more important when Italy punished Belgium on the different finish with a objective that rewarded their enterprising motion within the remaining third of the pitch.
Marco Verratti fed the ball to Barella inside the world and the Inter midfielder wriggled freed from two defenders earlier than lashing the ball into the far nook of Thibaut Courtois’ internet.
Italy continued to push and doubled their benefit simply earlier than half-time due to a beautiful end from the good Insigne as he whipped the ball into the highest nook.
Kevin De Bruyne recovered from the harm that noticed him substituted in opposition to Portugal so there was just one change to the crew from the earlier recreation because the injured Eden Hazard was surprisingly changed by teenager Jeremy Doku reasonably than Yannick Carrasco.
Italy welcomed again captain Giorgio Chiellini on the coronary heart of the defence after lacking two video games with a thigh harm. The in-form Federico Chiesa changed Domenico Berardi in assault, whereas there was as soon as once more no place for Manuel Locatelli in midfield.
Issues seemed bleak for the world’s top-ranked crew at that stage however teenager Jeremy Doku – a shock substitute for the injured Eden Hazard – instantly gained a penalty.
The push from Di Lorenzo had been minimal however Doku’s direct play gained it and Lukaku duly transformed the spot-kick to halve Italy’s lead and provides Belgium hope going into the break.
The sample continued within the second half with Italy enjoying the brighter soccer however Belgium threatening on the counter-attack and Lukaku, chasing his fifth objective of the event, got here near an equaliser on the half-hour mark.
The spectacular Doku threaded a go by means of to De Bruyne and his low cross discovered the ahead on the far put up just for his mishit effort to be blocked by Leonardo Spinazzola close to the objective line.
Belgium tried to construct some momentum within the closing phases however Italy have been capable of disrupt their rhythm with a collection of substitutions – together with to the injured, and heartbroken, Spinazzola.
De Bruyne and the remainder turned more and more pissed off themselves as event elimination loomed – and the data that this group of gamers’ finest possibilities of glory could also be behind them.
For Italy, there are greater challenges forward.
Italy will play Spain within the semi-finals of Euro 2020 at Wembley on Tuesday 6 July.