Italy will now face Wembley Stadium on Tuesday to secure a place in the Euro 2020 final.
Italy reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 with a 2-1 victory over Belgium on Friday as goals from the first half by Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne resolved an exciting encounter against the world number one team. .
Barella fired the score after 31 minutes before Insigne’s magnificent curling attack doubled their lead on the verge of the break before Romelu Lukaku faced Belgium at the break.
Both teams had chances to score after the break in a breathless match, but Roberto Mancini’s men held on for the 13th consecutive victory to extend their unbeaten run to 32 games.
On Tuesday they will face Spain at Wembley to secure a place in the final after Luis Enrique’s side beat Switzerland 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after their the struggling opponents clung to a 1-1 draw after overtime despite going down to 10 men.
Italy started strong when Leonardo Bonucci put the ball into the net after a 13-minute free kick, but his celebrations slowed down when he was left out.
Italian Gianluigi Donnarumma produced a magnificent one-handed stop to deny midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who was fit enough to start after suffering an injury in Belgium’s last game, before the goalkeeper tipped a Lukaku effort.
Belgium missed their captain Eden Hazard, ruled out with a hamstring injury, even when De Bruyne shook his ankle injury.
The Azzurri took the lead when Barella fired a shot into the bottom corner after catching two defenders inside the area. It was Italy’s tenth goal of the tournament, the highest in a European championship.
Italy looked like they would end up halfway through when the outstanding Insigne curler doubled his lead, but Belgium reduced the deficit three minutes later when Giovanni Di Lorenzo attacked Jeremy Doku and Lukaku converted the penalty.
Leonardo Spinazzola made a brilliant save to deny Lukaku the equalizer after the break, but the Italian left winger’s impressive night ended in tears when he was taken on a stretcher with a muscle problem.
The lively Doku caused trouble for the Azzurri defense all night and threatened a late tie when he broke from the wing to shoot a shot into the goal, but flew over inches on the bar.
Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was disappointed, but gave credit to the Italians.
“That hits a lot, but we knew it would be a difficult game. We had two chances, but his goalkeeper made a good stop and I think we left the first goal a little too easy,” he said.
“It really could have gone either way, but Italy deserved to win here.”
Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the 2012 final, but Italy took revenge a bit: 2-0 in the round of 16 of 2016 with a tactical masterclass.
Mancini’s men will expect the same on this occasion, as they seemed to return to the track with a much improved performance compared to their narrow victory in overtime in the last 16 against Austria and more in line with their three victories in the group stage.
“We were well-deserved winners. The boys were very good and we could have scored more goals, “said Mancini.
“We did not have any minimum goals for the tournament, we wanted to achieve as much as possible. There are two more games: we’ll see what happens.