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Published: 21:19 | 13/6/16

Italy beat Belgium in Lyon


Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle were on target, as Italy beat Belgium 2-0 in their Group E opener in Lyon.

Italy took the lead just after the half-hour mark, with Bologna striker Giaccherini controlling Leonardo Bonucci's defence-splitting 30-yard pass then sweeping the ball beyond Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

And it could have been 2-0 moments later, as Graziano Pelle just failed to get his header on target from the second ball from Marco Parolo's initial challenge in the Belgium box.

Romelu Lukaku spurned a great chance for Belgium on 54 minutes, with a clipped effort from a Kevin de Bruyne pass that drifted beyond Gianluigi Buffon's far post.

Within a minute, Courtois was called into action again to keep out a second Pelle header as Italy produced another trademark counter-attack.

De Bruyne, one of the few players in Marc Wilmots' squad to match up to his pre-tournament billing, then picked out substitute Divock Origi with an inch-perfect cross on 82 minutes, but, unmarked, the Liverpool striker headed over Buffon's crossbar.

And Pelle made them pay with an injury-time volley on the break from Antonio Candreva's chip to the far post. Italy next meet Sweden in Toulouse on Friday, with Martin O'Neill's Ireland facing Belgium the following day in Bordeaux.



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