The road is still long: Roberto Mancini after Italy reach semifinal

The Italians withstood a late onslaught from top-ranked Belgium side to enter the semifinals of Euro 2020 to play Spain.

Roberto Mancini in a file photo; Credit: Twitter@azzurri
By Karthik Raman | Jul 3, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

A delighted Roberto Mancini said Italy “deserved to win” after they produced a fantastic performance to beat Belgium 2-1 on Friday. The Italians withstood a late onslaught from top-ranked Belgium side to enter the semifinals of Euro 2020 to play Spain. Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne scored a goal each before Romelu Lukaku pulled one back from the penalty spot right before half-time. Belgium tried hard in the second half, constantly keeping the Italians under pressure, but they were unable to change the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Italy have extended their unbeaten run to 32 games on the back of their hard-fought win.

Mancini informed that his players were “tired” towards the end, nonetheless, he felt that they could have scored more goals. “We deserved to win. The boys were extraordinary in the game,” Mancini said after Friday’s quarterfinal victory. “We only suffered in the last 10 minutes because we were really tired, we had spent a lot. But we could have scored a few more goals.”

For now, Mancini wants his players to savour the triumph before thinking about Tuesday’s semifinal against Spain at London’s Wembley Stadium. “We didn’t have a minimum goal, we wanted to do our best, the road is still long, there are two games to go, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “Spain? Let’s enjoy this victory, then we’ll think about it. Congratulations to my boys, they were very good.”

‘Dubious penalty’

In the second half, Belgium pushed hard for the equaliser, but the Italian defenders held firm, denying them clear-cut openings. Speaking after the match, one of Italy’s star defenders, Leonardo Bonucci, expressed his satisfaction over the result. Italy have won all their matches in this Euros till now, conceding just two goals while scoring 11 times.

“We knew Belgium’s quality, especially in attack and the danger they posed to us on the counter,” Bonucci told RAI Sport. “We went 2-0 up and were dominating the game, then they got back into it with a dubious penalty, we did really well to hold on and showed once again how important the heart of this Italy side and of the Italians is.”

Meanwhile, Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is playing in his first major tournament, was all praise for his teammates. The goalkeeper played a significant role in the victory, producing a splendid save from Kevin De Bruyne. He was also comfortable in dealing with the crosses on the night.

“The game was endless! It just wouldn’t end! This group is extraordinary, we deserve this and now we’ll play the semi-final, as we slowly approach our objective,” the goalkeeper told RAI Sport. “I always try to help the team, I’m emotional as this is my first major tournament and I wanted to progress as much as possible with the Italy jersey. I hope to make everyone’s dream come true.”

Meanwhile, Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gave credit to the Italians for winning the hard-fought battle. “This hits hard, but we knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “We had two opportunities but their keeper made a good save and I think we gave the first goal away a bit too easily. It really could have gone either way, but Italy deserved to win here.”

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