UEFA U-21 Euros: Italy edge out Belgium


In the last fixture for these teams, Italy took on Belgium. With Italy still chasing the leaders Poland, they had to win if they were to qualify for the semi-finals. For Belgium, they were definitely going home after collecting zero points from the first two games.

Italy kicked off this exciting encounter as they tried to gain maximum points to gain qualification for the semi-finals.

In the first five minutes of the game, it was Italy who dominated the ball, with frequent attacking runs and most of the possession in their favour.

In the 8th minute, Nicolo Barella sent a header at goalwards from a brilliant cross but, his header went agonisingly wide of the goal.

Minutes later, Belgium had their chance to score. Dodi Lukebakio latched onto a fine cross-field pass on the edge of the area with the forward unleashing a shot at goal. The ball was saved by a diving Alex Meret who prevented a definite goal.

In the 16th minute, an accurate pass found Federico Chiesa with his instinctive shot flashed inches wide of the right post.

With half an hour of the match played, Italy had another great chance to take the lead. Patrick Cutrone collected the ball from a free-kick and fired his shot from long range over the bar.

Italy broke the deadlock in the 44th minute. After a goalmouth scramble, the ball rebounded to Nicolo Barella who buried his shot into the back of the net from close range.

Srdjan Jovanovic ended the first-half with Italy on top at the moment and being the dominant force in the game.

Belgium kicked off the second-half of the match with the team looking to respond to Italy’s first-half dominance.

It wasn’t long until Italy made it 2-0. Cutrone scored from a corner through a great header with his powerful effort going into the back of net that gave Italy a greater advantage.

In the 65th minute, Manuel Locatelli latched onto a rebound in the box and fired his shot just wide of Ortwin De Wolf’s goal with the Italian having the best chance to make it 3-0 for Italy.

A minute later, Rolando Mandragora did well to control a poor pass on the edge of the box with his shot aimed at the left side of the goal. De Wolf, who was out of position, made a phenomenal save to deny the Italian the goal.

With the last minutes to go, Italy slowed down a lot in terms of attacks and became more sloppy in open play with Belgium finally exploiting that. They created a few decent efforts at goal, but most going off target.

In the 78th minute, Mandragora pounced on a great cross inside the box, but lashed his powerful first-time shot wide of the left post of the Belgian goal.

Seconds later, Belgium got a goal back. Yari Verschaeren found some space outside the penalty area and struck the ball towards goal that went inside the right post.

In the closing stages, Italy decided to put the pressure on again. Gianluca Mancini’s shot was a great effort, but bounced out after hitting the shot.

In the 89th minute, Federico Chiesa made it 3-1. After the forward latched onto an inch-perfect cross outside the box and struck the ball into the top corner.

The final whistle blew with Italy winning 3-1 against Belgium after dominating the whole game. The results mean Italy make it into the second place slot after the win. Belgium finish bottom of Group A, remaining winless.

Team Line-ups

Belgium U-21: Ortwin De Wolf; Dion Cools, Rocky Bushiri, Sebastiaan Bornauw, Elias Cobbaut; Bryan Heynen, Samuel Bastien (Orel Mangala 59′); Alexis Saelemaekers (Issac Mbenza 74′ Red Card 90+3′), Stephane Omeonga (Yari Verschaeren 59′), Siebe Schrijvers (c); Dodi Lukebakio.

Italy U-21: Alex Meret; Arturo Calabresi, Gianluca Mancini, Alessandro Bastoni, Giuseppe Pezzella; Nicolò Barella (Federico Dimarco 90′), Rolando Mandragora (c), Manuel Locatelli (Sandro Tonali 72′); Federico Chiesa, Patrick Cutrone, Lorenzo Pellegrini (Federico Bonazzoli 79′).  


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