Italy virtually guaranteed themselves of a UEFA EURO 2000 quarter-final place with an efficient performance that said as much about their defensive solidity as their attacking prowess. Goals in either half by Francesco Totti and Stefano Fiore sealed a second successive group victory.
Though Totti struck after just six minutes, heading in Antonio Conte's pinpoint free-kick, Dino Zoff's side had to withstand a concerted assault on their goal. It was superbly protected by Francesco Toldo, before Fiori stole a breakaway goal midway through the second half.
The Azzurri began brightly and might have scored in the opening two minutes when Filip De Wilde raced out of goal to deny the onrushing Totti. Moments later the goalkeeper was forced into a double save from Paolo Maldini's fierce volley and Filippo Inzaghi's shot on the turn. The early pressure told on six minutes when Conte picked out Totti to nod in from close range.
Belgium countered in an instant, finding a spare man at the far post as the move swept down the right. The ball was fed back to Bart Goor, scorer of the first tournament goal in Saturday's 2-1 win against Sweden, but this time his drive was tipped on to the crossbar by Toldo.
It signalled the start of a barrage on Toldo's goal as Goor's athleticism, and the dynamism of Marc Wilmots and Yves Vanderhaeghe, helped Belgium dominate midfield. Shots rained in but Toldo was defiant, flinging himself at Wilmots' feet and turning Lorenzo Staelens' snap-shot wide.
His next save was even more spectacular, pushing away substitute Luc Nilis' free-kick. It seemed only a matter of time before Les Diables Rouges levelled, but Belgium unravelled on the counterattack, Fiore playing a one-two with Inzaghi to finish adroitly on 66 minutes.