Italy sealed their spot in the semi-final of Euro 2020 with a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory over Belgium on Friday.
Italy had a goal rightly ruled out by VAR early on after Leonardo Bonucci was caught offside, but I Nerazzuri did get themselves ahead on the half-hour mark thanks to an excellent strike from Nicolo Barella. Lorenzo Insigne’s gorgeous curling effort made it 2-0, but Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty to give Belgium a lifeline before the break.
Belgium had some excellent chances to equalise after the break, with Lukaku coming within inches of scoring twice, but they could not find a way through Italy’s dominant defence in a second half which was marred by an injury to Italy left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who was stretchered off in tears after pulling up during a sprint.
Roberto Martinez’s side continued to knock on the door but were repeatedly turned away by Italy, whose well-earned spot in the semi-final was sealed with the final whistle.
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 5/10 – Could do absolutely nothing about the two goals, but didn’t have much to do apart from pick the ball out of the back of the net.
Toby Alderweireld (CB) – 4/10 – Looked terrified dealing with Spinazzola and did nowhere near enough to close Insigne down for the second goal.
Thomas Vermaelen (CB) – 5/10 – Was really showing his age here. Did well to deal with Immobile when standing still but looked well off the pace as soon as he had to move. Should’ve closed Insigne out.
Jan Vertonghen (CB) – 5/10 – Sloppy on the ball for the first goal and looked to be lacking composure. Didn’t enjoy dealing with Chiesa’s pace at all.
Thomas Meunier (RM) – 4/10 – Given the unenviable task of dealing with Insigne and Spinazzola and was completely overwhelmed. Gave possession away far too often.
Axel Witsel (CM) – 5/10 – Penned back by Italy’s high press. Wasn’t doing any pressing himself and didn’t make up for it on the ball. A performance to forget.
Youri Tielemans (CM) – 5/10 – Forced to play far deeper than he’s comfortable doing. Couldn’t get on the ball and was woeful in defence. Looked lethargic at times.
Thorgan Hazard (LM) – 5/10 – Couldn’t get going at all. Never really looked like a threat and put in a few too many poor crosses.
Jeremy Doku (AM) – 7/10 – Belgium’s brightest spark by a long way. Terrified Di Lorenzo with his pace and deservedly won the penalty.
Kevin De Bruyne (AM) – 6/10 – Looked very dangerous whenever he got forward but didn’t get to do that enough.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 6/10 – Began well but soon became far too isolated. Was left trying to wrestle his way back into the game. Showed good composure for the penalty.
Dries Mertens – 5/10
Nacer Chadli – N/A
Dennis Praet – 5/10
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK) – 7/10 – Made some excellent saves to keep Italy on top. Never really looked like conceding.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo (RB) – 6/10 – Was clumsy with the penalty. Found it tough to keep up with Doku.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB) – 8/10 – Had a shaky start and didn’t enjoy the battle with Lukaku, but recovered quickly and remained compact throughout. Outstanding late on as he threw his body at everything.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – 7/10 – Composed at the back but made more of an impact with the ball at his feet. Was breaking the lines with real ease all night long.
Leonardo Spinazzola (LB) – 8/10 – His ridiculous Euros continue. Had a screamer of a first touch from a pass in the first half and then made a game-saving block on Lukaku on the hour mark. Stretchered off late on and might be done for the summer.
Marco Verratti (CM) – 8/10 – Just relentless with his pressing. Absolutely dictated the tempo of this game and completely overwhelmed the Belgian midfield.
Jorginho (CM) – 8/10 – Had his playmaking boots on for this one. Every time he was on the ball, he looked like he was going to make something happen. Didn’t steal the headlines like his fellow midfielders but was just as important.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – 8/10 – Scored a sublime goal and could have easily had some glorious assists to his name as well. Everything he did seemed to lead to a big moment. Outstanding.
Federico Chiesa (RW) – 6/10 – Looked fairly dangerous on the ball but will be disappointed not to have asked more questions of Hazard and Vertonghen. Should have done so much more.
Ciro Immobile (ST) – 4/10 – The obvious weak link in Italy’s attack. Couldn’t get himself involved at all and ended up wasting some glorious moves from his midfielders. Unsurprisingly hooked for Belotti.
Lorenzo Insigne (LW) – 8/10 – Spinazolla’s movement gave him so much space and Insigne wreaked havoc with that. Ran rings around the Belgian defence and scored one of the goals of the tournament.
Andrea Belotti – 6/10
Bryan Cristante – 6/10
Emerson Palmieri – 6/10
Domenico Berardi – 6/10
Rafael Toloi – N/A