All three objectives in the Azzurri’s 2-1 got here in the primary half, with good strikes from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne opening up a two-goal lead.
However, the deficit was halved simply moments later after Romelu Lukaku transformed from the penalty spot following a slipshod foul from Giovanni Di Lorenzo on teenager Jeremy Doku, who was a standout performer amongst among the Belgium’s extra established stars.
Lukaku had two nice alternatives to equalize in the second half, however some last-gasp Italian defending prevented the Inter Milan ahead from getting a clear have a look at aim.
Italy performed with its again to the wall for a lot of the sport, however Belgium’s lack of innovative up entrance meant that its veteran central defensive pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci was not often troubled.
Belgium got here into this match with lofty expectations, with many labeling Euro 2020 because the final probability for the nation’s getting old ‘golden era’ to win some silverware.
The Red Devils had actually lived up to hype to this point, profitable all three of its group video games earlier than effectively, if not emphatically, dispatching defending champion Portugal in the final 16.
Conversely, few had anticipated Italy to shine as vivid because it has at Euro 2020.
The boundless power of the likes of Leonardo Spinazzola and Manuel Locatelli have given this staff an thrilling attacking edge, whereas the return of Marco Verratti from harm has given the midfield elevated management.
Belgium began this match — maybe as anticipated — on the entrance foot, with Lukaku discovering house in behind the Italian protection on two events early on. The possibilities got here to nothing, but it surely was an indication of issues to come as Belgium dominated the opening half hour.
Italy thought it had taken the lead towards the run of play after Leonardo Bonucci turned dwelling Insigne’s free-kick, however VAR dominated the defender had strayed narrowly offside.
Along with Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne was additionally anticipated to miss this tie via harm — or a minimum of solely be match sufficient for the bench — however head coach Roberto Martinez shocked everybody by together with the Manchester City star in his beginning lineup.
There have been actually no early indicators of that leg harm hampering De Bruyne, who was dictating play from midfield and searching explosive on the counterattack.
After certainly one of a number of marauding runs ahead, a candy, left-footed strike introduced an excellent save out of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. The younger keeper was referred to as into motion once more quickly after, turning Lukaku’s low shot across the submit.
But Belgium could be left to remorse its failure to capitalize on that early dominance as Italy took the lead on the half hour mark.
Barella picked up a free ball contained in the penalty space and in some way jinked his manner via three crimson shirts, earlier than firing a vicious strike in off the far submit that gave Thibaut Courtois no probability.
Belgium picked up the place it left off earlier than the aim, huffing and puffing however probably not troubling Italy’s again line.
Mancini’s facet could have strayed considerably from the basic Italian textbook on defending, however lots of the hallmarks which have made Italy groups of the previous profitable nonetheless stay, notably in veteran Chiellini’s marshaling of the protection.
However, it could be Italy that scored once more and it was Insigne with one of many objectives of the match. The diminutive Napoli ahead lower inside onto his proper foot and curled an exquisite effort previous Courtois’ outstretched arm and into the far nook.
Belgium was shell-shocked, its gamers stood round with fingers on hips as Martinez regarded on, arms folded, already with a touch of resignation on his face.
But his facet was afforded a lifeline simply seconds later, as referee Slavko Vincic pointed to the penalty spot following Di Lorenzo’s clumsy push — if a bit mushy — on Doku.
Lukaku made no mistake from the spot, hammering his penalty down the center of the aim.
If the opening 45 minutes was up there with the perfect half of soccer at Euro 2020 to this point, the second interval did not start in the identical method. Both groups appeared content material with catching their breath, however Belgium quickly started to press ahead in search of an equalizer.
The first alternative got here on the hour mark after Doku’s incisive run and go discovered De Bruyne, who squared the ball throughout the face of aim. It regarded for all of the world as if Lukaku would have a easy faucet in on the far submit, however a deft deflection from Spinazzola simply took it out of the ahead’s attain.
Italy’s defenders, in explicit Chiellini, celebrated with Spinazzola as if he’d scored a aim.
Belgium continued to throw every little thing at Italy, together with goalkeeper Courtois for the ultimate nook of the match, however in reality the Italian again line by no means regarded like being breached.
For Belgium’s ‘golden era’ this might effectively be the tip of the highway, however Italy — which failed to even qualify for the World Cup in 2018 — now has a sensible probability of profitable a primary main trophy for the reason that 2006 World Cup.