Italy have taken the lead over Belgium through a fine goal from Nicolo Barella.
Roberto Mancini’s men had the ball in the net earlier in the contest, with Leonardo Bonucci having provided the finishing touch. However, the Juventus centre-back was adjudged to be in an offside position.
Italy’s intention from minute one was clear – to press the life out of the Belgian defence and hope to force them into making costly errors. It’s a strategy which has now paid off.
Jan Vertonghen was caught dilly-dallying in possession on the edge of his own penalty area, with PSG midfielder Marco Verratti intercepting the ball and laying it into Barella.
After some smart footwork, Barella fired home beyond the helpless Thibaut Courtois to give Italy a well-deserved lead in the contest.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) July 2, 2021
Pictures courtesy of beIN Sports
Now it’s time for Belgium to show some character, which is something which has let them down in previous tournaments.
Italy have one foot in the semi-finals, where the winner of this contest will face Spain.
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