Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign got off to a flying start as Antonio Conte’s men secured an emphatic 2-0 win over Belgium at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Emanuele Giaccherini opened the scoring for the Azzurri in the 32nd minute as he latched on to an over the top ball from a quick free-kick by Leonardo Bonucci, before slotting home past Thibaut Courtois.
Belgium, who are currently ranked second in the world, squandered a host of second half opportunities to equalise before Graziano Pelle put the tie to bed with a scissor kick from six yards out. The Southampton striker found the back of an empty net, with the last kick of the game, after Antonio Candreva found him with a brilliant pinpoint cross.
Thibaut Courtois – 7/10
The Chelsea shot-stopper made a host of key saves to keep his side in the hunt for 92 minutes of the game. The 24-year-old denied Pelle from close range at the start of the second half, before producing a remarkable save to keep out Siro Immobile’s strike in the closing stages of the game.
Laurent Ciman – 5/10
A disappointing night for the 30-year-old full-back as he failed to provide an outlet for his side in attack and was exposed in the build-up for Italy’s opener. Was replaced by Carrasco in the 75th minute as Belgium threw the kitchen sink at Italy.
Thomas Vermaelen – 6/10
The central defender’s lack of playing time at Barcelona was evident as he looked off pace on more occasions than one. Did make a couple of vital interceptions and blocks.
Toby Alderweireld – 5.5/10
The Tottenham Hotspur man endured a nightmarish start to his Euro campaign as he was primarily at fault for Italy’s opener having allowed the ball to find his way to Giaccherini. The 27-year-old struggled in the air and was also sloppy while defending.
Jan Vertonghen – 6.5/10
Failed to provide an attacking outlet down the left-hand side as Candreva proved more than a handful for the 29-year-old. But the Tottenham Hotspur man did make some vital blocks to deny good opportunities to the Azzurri.
Radja Nainggolan – 6.5/10
Tested Buffon with some venomous long range drives, before being replaced by Mertens in the 62nd minute – to everyone’s surprise.
Eden Hazard – 7/10
The Chelsea winger was disappointing in the first half, but improved as the game progressed. Despite looking like the most likely source for an equalizer, he could not deliver the goal that Belgium so desperately required.
Marouane Fellaini – 5/10
The Manchester United man squandered a great opportunity at the 90th minute to salvage a point for his side. The 28-year-old was at hand to receive the ball from his teammates and covered an insane amount of ground but failed to provide the all-important breakthrough for his side and was also let down by his poor control of the ball.
Axel Witsel – 6/10
Witsel helped his side retain possession and guarded the back four with aplomb. The Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder was a bright spark in an otherwise forgettable encounter for the Red Devils.
Kevin de Bruyne – 4.5/10
Struggled to make the impact that is expected from a player of his stature. The Manchester City man was unable to find his teammates with his slide rule through balls but set up a great chance for Lukaku in the second half.
Romelu Lukaku – 3/10
Without a shadow of doubt the worst Belgian player of the game. The Everton man cut a sorry figure as he was deprived of the service that he thrives on. The 23-year-old squandered his side’s best chance on the counter. Was replaced by Divock Origi in the 73rd minute.
Dries Mertens – 6.5/10
Was brought on for Nainggolan in the 62nd minute and caused havoc amidst the Italian defenders with his direct running.
Divock Origi – 6/10
Replaced Lukaku in the 73rd minute and made a more significant impact that the Liverpool man.
Yannick Carrasco – N/A
Came on as a 75th-minute substitute for Ciman but didn’t have a significant impact on the game.