Belgium beat Italy on Monday night thanks to Tine de Caigny’s strike to finish second in Group D and qualify for the Euro 2022 quarter finals, eliminating their opponents in the process.
De Caigny gathered a scrappy set piece and fired into the far corner for the only goal of the game, setting up a knockout clash with Sweden on Friday.
Italy needed a win to have any hope of reaching the next stage, while a point could have been enough for Belgium to qualify depending on the result of France’s clash with Iceland.
France actually took the lead in the very first minute and Italy showed similar intent as striker and captain Cristiana Girelli forced Nicky Evrard into an early sprawling save with a strike from distance.
The Azzurre’s neat start was nearly undone by an untidy giveaway in possession as Elena Dhont found Hannah Eurlings, but the striker could only curl her effort narrowly over. Dhont would soon go close herself, just failing to get enough contact on a Tessa Wullaert cross.
The size of the opportunity for both sides to claim second place seemed to take hold of the pitch, with the teams looking tentative in the Manchester heat. Possession was swapped regularly as misplaced passes disrupted the flow of the game before half time, though Barbara Bonansea did bring a save from Evrard with a strike from close range.
Instead, it was Belgium who seized the initiative at the start of the second period, capitalising from a scrappy set piece as Tine de Caigny struck into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Italy so nearly drew level just minutes later, with Girelli striking the bar with an audacious curling effort from range.
They kept coming, with Bonansea scuppering an opportunity for a good effort on goal by slipping, while substitute Arianna Caruso saw a hooked attempt cleared away by Laura Delooseat.
However, time eventually ran out on Italy and Bonansea’s tame effort from the edge of the box summed up their performances in the group stage as they exited the tournament.
GK: Laura Giuliani – 5/10 – Given no chance by De Caigny’s strike. Not called into action too often.
RB: Lucia Di Guglielmo – 5/10 – Overhit a few crosses in decent positions and saw one strike well blocked. Replaced at the break.
CB: Elisa Bartoli – 5/10 – Had mixed results in her aerial duels and wasn’t the most authoritative.
CB: Elena Linari – 6/10 – Well positioned to cut out a few dangerous Belgium attacks.
LB: Lisa Boattin – 6/10 – A threat in attack, both with her crossing and getting into the box. Booked for a lunge on Eurlings.
RM: Valentina Bergamaschi – 6/10 – Delivered one nice cross which caused some panic in the Belgium defence in the first half.
CM: Martina Rosucci – 5/10 – Only 23 touches before being dragged off.
CM: Manuela Giugliano – 6/10 – Had a few sights of goal but often lacked the power to trouble Evrard.
CM: Flaminia Simonetti – 6/10 – Some decent pressing and sharp interceptions.
LM: Barbara Bonansea – 6/10 – Got into some dangerous positions and had Italy’s best opportunity of the first half. Looked the most dangerous on her side but couldn’t force an equaliser.
ST: Cristiana Girelli – 5/10 – Started with intent and came so close to equalising with a brilliant effort from distance. Not happy when brought off late on.
SUB: Agnese Bonfantini – 7/10 – Added some attacking intent into the Italian display from the bench.
SUB: Arianna Caruso – 6/10 – Saw a goal-bound effort turned away.
SUB: Valentina Giacinti – 6/10 – Combined well with fellow substitute Giacinti.
SUB: Valentina Cernoia – 5/10 – Not too much time to make an impact.
SUB: Daniela Sabatino – 5/10 – Same as above.
GK: Nicky Evrard – 8/10 – Alert to keep out a few Italy efforts in the first half. Ended the game with six games and a deserved clean sheet.
RB: Jody Vangheluwe – 6/10 – Struggled with the tricky running of Bonansea on occasion. Did manage to hold her ground a little better later on.
CB: Sari Kees – 8/10 – Knocked the ball down to De Caigny for an assist. Did well to block a dangerous Di Guglielmo strike. Did really well to lead the resistance to Italy’s late push.
CB: Julie Biesmans – 7/10 – Grew into the game alongside Kees, recovering the ball well and using it diligently in possession.
LB: Davina Philtjens – 7/10 – Solid on the left and didn’t give Bergamaschi too much space to work with.
CM: Justine Vanhaevermaet – 9/10 – Did play a part in the constant possession back and forth but was immense defensively, making headed clearances, interceptions and recoveries galore.
CM: Tine de Caigny – 8/10 – Showed great composure and accuracy to arrow in the opener. Not the most accurate passer but her contribution was the most important.
RW: Elena Dhont – 6/10 – Almost converted a cross but couldn’t quite get enough contact on the shot.
AM: Tessa Wullaert – 7/10 – Her cross led to the chaos which ended in De Caigny’s strike. Smacked the bar late on with an effort from 20 yards.
LW: Janice Cayman – 6/10 – Lost the ball a little too frequently. Also missed on the rebound from Wullaert’s strike.
ST: Hannah Eurlings – 6/10 – Scrapped hard and did her defensive duties up front, but didn’t have the opportunities in attack.
SUB: Marie Minnaert – 6/10 – 12 touches after her introduction but helped seal the win with defensive work rate.
SUB: Laura Deloose – 7/10 – Made some important interventions with Belgium defending with their backs to the wall.
SUB: Feli Delacauw – 6/10 – Played the pass which nearly saw Wullaert net.
SUB: Kassandra Missipo – N/A – Introduced in the 92nd minute.