Euro 2016: Belgium 0-2 Italy - 5 talking points
Italy got their Euro 2016 campaign off to a flyer as Emmanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle were on target to down the swashbuckling Belgium side, and took the first initiative towards a last 16 berth.
Touted as the favourites to finish as leaders in group E, The Red Devils struggled to break down an obdurate Azzurri backline and spent large spells of the game in their shadows. Italy kept things tight at the back, shutting up the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, whilst their youthful attack rolled back the years.
Antonio Conte’s side made a very encouraging start to the campaign, having been deemed as “one of the worst Italian squads in the history”. The pressure is now on Belgium to catch-up.
Here are the major talking points from a gripping clash in Lyon.
1) By far, the most entertaining game of Euro 2016
The 2016 edition of the European championships hadn’t produced any great shakes thus far, averaging slightly more than only a goal per game. There were no headline-grabbing moments as such, whereas the games were just plain vanilla. However, the clash between Belgium and Italy has finally raised the bar.
In arguably the best match of the campaign thus far, the two sides played out an end-to-end encounter, producing an edge of the seat thriller. With some of football’s high muckamucks converging at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, it was the most glamorous clash of the tournament so far, and suffice to say, it lived up to its billing.
The match flew out of the gates right from the off as both teams pulled no punches in search of the lead. Belgium had the better chances for most of the game, but Italy were more clinical and also effectively dealt with the threat at the other end.
By a long shot, this was the most intriguing clash of Euro 2016.