Belgium reached the quarter-finals of the European Women’s Championship for the first time as Tine De Caigny’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over Italy in their final group game of the Euro 2022.
A slow start in the scorching heat at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium saw little real chance for either opponent in the opening rallies of the must-win game for both teams.
Italy enjoyed bright spells throughout the game and controlled their momentum after the restart, but couldn’t make the most of their chances in the second half, while Tessa Wullaert almost doubled the advantage of his team during the seven minutes of stoppage time.
With both teams keeping a close eye on events elsewhere, Belgium had the first chance when Hannah Eurlings’ shot from six minutes past the woodwork.
Elena Dhont was next with a near miss as she latched on to a pass from captain Wullaert but couldn’t put enough power on the ball, her effort easily caught by Italian keeper Laura Giuliani.
Belgium enjoyed almost 60 per cent possession in the first 30 minutes but were frustrated by a formidable Italian defense as both teams looked to find a breakthrough.
Italy looked livelier after a 28th-minute drink break, Lucia Di Guglielmo connecting with a Barbara Bonansea cross but unable to direct her nodding effort towards the Belgian net.
De Caigny finally broke the deadlock four minutes after the break when the ball landed at her feet after a series of scrambled touches and she sent a composed shot into the bottom right corner.
The Italians almost responded minutes later when Cristiana Girelli pounced on a stray ball at the edge of the area to see her curled attempt bounce off the underside of the crossbar.
Substitute Valentina Giacinti came close to equalizing but saw her late strike – and Italy’s tournament hopes – thwarted by a Belgian defender.
Belgium will face Sweden at Leigh Sports Village in the third quarter-final on Friday.
Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports
Keep up to date with all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will provide analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are taking place.
Additionally, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast Tournament from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a solid tournament programme.
Euro 2022: knockouts…
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: England v Spain – Kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Germany v Austria – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
friday july 22
Quarter-final 3: Sweden vs Belgium – kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-final 4: France vs Netherlands – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
tuesday july 26
Semi-final 1: Quarter-final winners 1 vs Quarter-final winners 3 – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Quarter-Final Winners 2 vs Quarter-Final Winners 4 – Kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 vs Winners semi-final 2 – kick-off 5pm, Wembley