Italy Defies Expectations to Beat Belgium in European 2016 Championships

Jun 14 2016 01:55 PM
Italy Defies Expectations to Beat Belgium in European 2016 Championships

Italy, the 2006 World Cup champion, finally broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Leonardo Bonucci found Giaccherini inside the Belgium penalty area with a lofted long ball over the defense.

Giaccherini controlled it with a fine touch and curled his shot past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Goals from Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle combined with excellent defending helped Italy to a 2-0 win over Belgium in their first match at the European Championship on Monday.

Described as one of the worst Squadra Azzurra ever by Italian media, Antonio Conte's aging team defied the odds to take the lead in Group E with an impressive collective display at Lyon's Grand Stade.

"Our players understood that they needed to do extraordinary things to make sure they are talked about," Italy coach Antonio Conte said after beating one of the tournament's favourites. "The players in my group are clever, they understood that we have achieved something important with that win.

But they also know we need to give more than 100 per cent to continue in this tournament." Fielding a team with top Premier League players including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium dominated the early stages but was made to pay for the errors of a makeshift defence and a lack of finishing up front.

"Our defence was fantastic and I think we have the best defence at the Euros," Giaccherini said. "We all had to help each other and to try, when we had the ball, to hurt them.

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