Italy advanced to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 by beating Belgium 2-1 in a pulsating game in Munich on Friday night.
Gli Azzurri found themselves 2-0 up just before half time as punters cashed in on betting promotions after great goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne. Romelu Lukaku gave Belgium a lifeline from the penalty spot just before the break, but the Red Devils could not force an equaliser.
Belgium started the game with remarkable intensity but it was the Italians who put the ball in the net first, only for it to be disallowed. A free-kick from Insigne was bundled in by Leonardo Bonucci, but replays showed two offsides as the ball found its way to Bonucci.
After great chances for both sides, Barella gave Italy the lead on the half-hour mark. Italy won the ball on the edge of the box after a defensive mix up and Barella danced through two players and lashed the ball into the bottom corner.
On the stroke of half-time, Insigne scored a wonderful goal to put Italy 2-0 up. The Napoli man ran at the Belgian defence from the left-hand side and curled a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.
The joy was short-lived when just a minute later Giovanni Di Lorenzo was judged to have fouled Jeremy Doku in the penalty area. Inter man Lukaku stepped up and fired Belgium back into the contest, making it 2-1 to Italy at half-time.
Lukaku missed a golden chance to draw Belgium level when he connected with De Bruyne’s pass at the far post, but he fumbled the ball into the leg of Leonardo Spinazzola. With 15 minutes to go the Roma full-back pulled up with a muscle injury and had to be substituted.
Gli Azzurri had to hang on in the dying minutes, but Chiellini, Bonucci and co. were able to get over the line.
Italy will play Spain, who knocked out Switzerland, on July 6 for a place in the final.
Spain were less than convincing in their quarter final tie and had it not been for a controversial red card that reduced the Swiss down to ten men then it might have been the Spanish who were heading home on Friday.
If Italy are able to make it through what is undoubtedly the harder side of the Euro 2020 draw then Roberto Mancini’s men will be confident of lifting the trophy at Wembley a week on Sunday.