Lyon (AFP) – Italy goalscorer Emanuele Giaccherini said the Azzurri have the best defence at Euro 2016 after they shut out Belgium’s star-studded attack in a 2-0 win on Monday.
Goals in either half from Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle ensured Italy hit the ground running at the European championship finals as the Azzurri condemned highly-fancied Belgium to a surprise defeat.
Giaccherini’s strike just after the half hour and Pelle’s stunning finish in stoppage time meant it was the Azzurri who took the three points as they look to emulate their run to the Euro 2012 final.
But Giaccherini, the man-of-the-match in Lyon, said it was the Juventus back-three, Italy’s ‘BBC’ defence of Andre Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, who made the difference.
“The defence was fantastic, I think we have the best back line in the competition, they made the difference,” said the 31-year-old Giaccherini.
“I’m pleased to have scored and with my performance, but it was all about getting the win for the team tonight.
“Belgium are a top side, especially individually.
“They have players who can hurt you and made life hard for us at times, everyone had to help each other out.
“We had to try and hurt them when we had the ball, which was what the coach (Antonio Conte) told us to do.”
Marc Wilmot’s Belgium, the highest ranked side coming into the European championship finals, dominated for long spells of the Group E clash.
However, they now face a crucial clash with Ireland on Saturday in Bordeaux if they are to avoid an embarrassing early exit.
Sweden’s 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland earlier at the Stade de France means Italy go top of the group.
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