Belfast Telegraph

Giaccherini's stunner for Italy shows Sunderland fans what they've missed in Belgium victory

Belgium 0 - Italy 2

By Robert Jones

Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle got Italy off to a winning start with stunning goals to sink fellow Group E heavyweights Belgium 2-0.

Giaccherini has hardly set the world alight in three years at Sunderland - and spent last season on loan at Serie A Bologna - but he ignited Italy's Euro 2016 challenge with a superb strike.

The winger coolly despatched a sublime ball over the top from Leonardo Bonucci in the first half and Pelle volleyed a second in stoppage time to settle the eagerly-anticipated clash.

Belgium's big names failed to spark for much of the game, with Romelu Lukaku missing their best chance before he was substituted with 20 minutes to go.

Belgium at least looked like they could be threatening in the opening skirmishes with Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan's fierce drive forcing a fine save from 38-year-old Italian Gianluigi Buffon, but Italy made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute when Leonardo Bonucci carved open the Belgium defence with a lofted ball from the halfway line.

Giaccherini peeled away from his marker, took one touch with his left foot and clinically tucked the ball past Thibaut Courtois with his right.

Belgium were surprisingly flat for most of the first half with Lukaku barely getting a kick and Kevin de Bruyne unable to get into the game.

Belgium's night was summed up a minute from time when Dries Mertens crossed into the area, Origi completely missed with an attempted header and the ball ricocheted between Marouane Fellaini's legs before ending up in the hands of Buffon.

Moments later Italy broke forward with Candreva crossing for Pelle to thump in a volley and make it 2-0.

BELGIUM: Courtois, Ciman (Carrasco 75), Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Nainggolan (Mertens 62), Witsel, De Bruyne, Fellaini, Hazard,Romelu Lukaku (Origi 73).

Subs Not Used: Mignolet, Denayer, Meunier, Kabasele, Dembele, Benteke,Jordan Lukaku,Batshuayi,Gillet.

Booked: Vertonghen.

Italy: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Candreva, Parolo, De Rossi (Thiago Motta 78), Giaccherini, Darmian (De Sciglio 58), Pelle, Eder (Immobile 75).

Subs Not Used: Sirigu, Ogbonna, Zaza, lorenzi, Sturaro, Insigne, Bernardeschi, El Shaarawy, Marchetti.

Booked: Chiellini, Eder, Bonucci, Thiago Motta.

Goals: Giaccherini 32, Pelle 90.

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (England).

Possession: Belgium 55% Italy 45%

Shots on target: Belgium 2 Italy 6

Fouls committed: France 10 Romania 12

Belgium 0


Belfast Telegraph