The two runners up of both Group A and Group B faced off today, in what was being touted as a possible game of the tournament. Both teams were a bit sour not to finish top of their respective groups, as Italy would of faced Northern Ireland with Belgium facing Iceland. However that was not to be and the fixture between the two European powerhouses was set.
Kevin De Bruyne had a chance to open up the scoring early but Donarumma proved to be in just the right position to deny the Manchester City player. Donarumma would not have much time to admire his save, as a tenacious Belgium once again went on the attack. This time he found himself up against Lukaku, the battle of Inter Milan versus AC Milan. Both not wanting to give the other one the advantage. Lukaku ended up taking said advantage though with a sublime delicate finish, that put the Belgians one up after twenty minutes.
It would take long for Belgium to capitalize on a Italian team who collectively dropped their heads after the goal. A mere three minutes later Belgium passed the ball around the edge of the area before the ball landed at the feet of Lukaku once again. This time his shot was not so delicate, this time the powerful Belgian rifled a shot into the top corner of the net leaving the Donarumma to wonder how his defenders allowed such a chance to happen.
The game was plodding along to half time, with the Italian support becoming restless. La Nazionale was still to register a shot on target in the half, this may have allowed Belgium to drop their guard, which resulted in Italy pouncing. Immobile combine with El Shaarawey to reduce the deficit to one goal on 43 minutes. With one goal and one shot on target, Belgium keeper must have been cursing his keeper. The same happened in the group stages against Finland, where Belgium conceded four goals from four shots on target. They also had a huge scare against Denmark, after allowing them to take to get back into the game, before snatching a last minute win. Would the Belgians rue their defensive fratalities?
The game could swing either way in the second half, De Bruyne was denied once again by Donarumma while Insigne was stopped at the other end by Courtois. A tense affair ensued, Italy desperately trying for an equalizer, Belgium knowing another goal would allow some breathing space in this hostile affair. The made to break the tension was none other then Eden Hazard. Initially denied by Donarumma, the Real Madrid superstar collected the rebound before making the ball cross the Italian goal line. With only ten minutes to go , the Italian support knew there chances of progressing were gone, a fact that resonated in the stands, who voiced their displeasure quite audibly.
De Bruyne finally managed to get himself on the score sheet blasting the ball past Donarumma from 25 yards out, providing the cream on top of the Belgian waffle. Poland is what awaits Belium next after they beat Hungary in what will be a fascinating game.
Speaking with KCLR Mick Gavin , Italian manager said he was “Sickened” and continued “The lag screwed me but fair played to him ( Billy Hayes, Belgium manager )