Italy beat Belgium at Euro 2020 to set up semi-final clash with Spain

·2-min read

Italy and Spain advanced to the semi-finals of the European championships on Friday following victories over Belgium and Switzerland respectively.

Spain progressed following a penalty shoot-out after the match in Saint Petersburg ended 1-1.

Switzerland, who were reduced to 10 men after 77 minutes following the dismissal of Remo Freuler, failed to hit the target with three of their kicks.

Mikel Oyarzabal delivered the coup de grace for the Spaniards who took the lead following an own-goal from Denis Zakaria in the eighth minute.

Swiss skipper Xherdan Shaqiri levelled mid-way through the second-half.

But before his team could build on the momentum, Freuler was sent off for a tackle on Gerard Moreno.

“Unfortunately the red card affected our game for 45 minutes,” said Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic.

“I question it a little bit, to be honest. But we can be proud of what we showed: we are eliminated with our heads held high.”

Mentality

That they reached penalties was due in no small part to the grit that allowed them to come from 3-1 down in the last-16 to beat world champions France on penalties and woeful Spanish marksmanship.

Luis Enrique’s men will require more ruthlessness in Tuesday's semi-final at Wembley against the Italians who outmuscled Belgium 2-1 in Munich.

Just over half an hour into the encounter in in Munich, Nicolo Barella fired past the Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after poor defending gifted the ball to the Italians on the edge of the Belgium penalty area.

With half-time approaching, the rearguard failed to close down Lorenzo Insigne as he advanced towards the area from the left wing.

The Napoli skipper accepted the largesse and struck a sumptuous shot with his right foot that curled into the net to the left of the diving Courtois.

Belgium halved the deficit in first-half stoppage time. Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty after Giovanni Di Lorenzo pushed Jeremy Doku.

Belgium hunted avidly for the equaliser but the Italians held firm to move into the last four at a major tournament for the first time since the 2012 European championships.

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