BELGIUM 0-2 ITALY
Belgium began their Euro 2016 campaign with a surprising loss to Italy.
The Italians aren’t a weak side by any means, but are certainly filled with less well known players than their opponents.
The Belgians have a strong squad, with several Premier League stars including Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini and Liverpool players Simon Mignolet, Christian Benteke and Divock Origi.
Belgium seemed to be the better team from the start of the game, creating chances to score early on as Radja Nainggolan sent in a bouncing shot from 30 yards that Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had to deal with in only the 10th minute.
The Italians would defend well and withstand any attacks that came their way in the first 30 minutes and just after the half hour mark, managed to create offensive plays of their own that resulted in the first goal of the game. Emanuele Giaccherini finished well after a long Leonardo Bonucci pass found him in a dangerous position, with the opportunity to score. Giaccherini wouldn’t waste his opportunity and put the Italians ahead before half time had even arrived.
The Belgians were a little shocked that they had not been first to score but they did not give up and went about attempting to find an equalizer, for the rest of the game. It was really very unlucky that they would never manage to succeed in this effort. Italy had the option of just sitting back and defending all attempts to score from Belgium but by the end of the they had increased their lead, though it was very late into extra time.
At least two of Liverpool’s regulars weren’t called off the substitute bench to play in this fixture. Simon Mignolet was not the starting goalkeeper and Christian Benteke had to sit and watch his fellow countrymen from the sidelines for the whole game too. Benteke’s not a prolific goalscorer but he has made valuable contributions to Liverpool’s squad since we signed and he should never really be entirely left out of the fixtures played, especially if you need to make a comeback (as Belgium did). Divock Origi was lucky enough to be asked to play, though only from around the 75th minute. It really would have been nice to see more action for the Reds and if only Mignolet had been in goal, perhaps Belgium would not have conceded twice – he’s rather good at keeping clean sheets, the Liverpool fans know this to be true.
Belgium were left shaking their heads in the 90th minute after another De Bruyne cross went painfully close to Divock Origi’s head, and Fellaini could not get a foot to it as it neared him either. Another player that came close but could not score was Romelu Lukaku.
The Italians seemed satisfied to play out the very little time left and could have just continually defended but did in fact still keep going with some attacking and Antonio Candreva sent a ball across for Pelle to put the ball past the Chelsea goalkeeper and finish Belgium off with what was almost the final kick of the game.
Italy now sit at the top of their group as the only team who has won and the team with the best goal difference as Sweden and Ireland could only manage to draw 1-1 with each other in their first fixtures of the tournament.
More reports to come soon on the other Liverpool players at Euro 2016. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.