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The BBC's Ron Jones
"In many ways it was a typical Italian performance"
 real 28k

"I think we deserved to win"
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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Italy head for quarter-finals
Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti leaps to head Italy in front
Italy 2-0 Belgium
(Brussels - Att: 46,000)

A goal in each half gave Italy a comfortable victory over co-hosts Belgium.

Francesco Totti put Italy into the lead after just six minutes with a perfect header and Stefano Fiore scored one of the goals of the tournament to double their lead and ease any worries that coach Dino Zoff may have had.

Zoff's men coped with Belgian pressure much more effectively than they had with Turkey's attacking forays on Sunday and for all the pressure exerted by Robert Waseige's side, there were precious few signs that they would break through a notoriously stubborn defence.

The only disappointment for the men in blue was the lack of form from front man Filippo Inzaghi, who was constantly found either in offside positions or lacking the pace to turn the ageing Belgium defence.

Italy now face Sweden in order to confirm qualification, while Belgium face Turkey in a game which will have immense significance for the co-hosts, who will exit the competition with another defeat.


Italy had two chances to take the lead in the fifth minute, but Filip de Wilde foiled both Paolo Maldini and Inzaghi with close range saves.

Key moments
5 mins: de Wilde foils Maldini and Inzaghi
6: Totti heads Italy in front
25: Vanderhaege handball missed
66: Fiore scores second conclusive goal

But in the following minute, a Demetrio Albertini free-kick found the head of Totti, who in turn found the net from eight yards.

The Italians made the better start, but Belgium, spurred on by the passionate home supporters, came very close to levelling.


Yves Vanderhaegue
Yves Vanderhaegue: His handball was missed
Bart Goor, who scored the opener against Sweden, shook the angle of post and crossbar with a long range shot and Emile Mpenza forced Francesco Toldo into an important save with a neat turn and shot.

The goal certainly forced Belgium out of their sluggish start, with Marc Wilmots forcing another good save from Toldo in the 20th minute, after Mpenza's cross had been flicked into his path by Branko Strupar.

For all their pressure, Belgium were lucky not to be 2-0 down after 25 minutes, with the referee missing a quite blatant handball from Yves Vanderhaege in his own area.

Belgium started the second half with more conviction and a shot from Lorenzo Staelens was turned around the post by Toldo.

Shortly after the hour mark, Luc Nillis, a substitute for Strupar, struck a curling free-kick which required Toldo to stretch down to his left to turn the shot behind for a corner.


Stefano Fiore
Stefano Fiore: His goal sealed victory
Belgium's lack of penetration was emphasised when Fiore doubled the lead in the 66th minute, playing a one-two with Inzaghi on the edge of the area and curling a superb right-footed shot past the despairing de Wilde.

The goal allowed Italy to adopt the totally defensive approach that has been their trademark in recent years while Belgium toiled with even less belief and conviction than they had for the previous 70 minutes.

Mpenza, the one member of the Belgian side who has impressed in both games, put a late chance wide, while Marco Delvecchio could have made it three when Alessandro Del Pierro put him in one-on-one with De Wilde, but instead dribbled away from goal.

Italy:Toldo, Maldini, Albertini, Cannavaro, Conte, Inzaghi (Delvecchio 77), Nesta, Iuliano, Zambrotta, Fiore (Ambrosini 83), Totti (Del Piero 63).

Belgium: De Wilde, Deflandre, Valgaeren, Staelens, Vanderhaege, Wilmots, Goor, E. Mpenza, Strupar (Nilis 58), Verheyen (M Mpenza 67), Van Kerckhoven (Hendrikx 45).

Referee: J M Garcia Aranda (Spain).

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | Italy
Clockwatch: Italy v Belgium
10 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Belgium kick off with fine win
14 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
Italy v Belgium in pictures
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