Battocchio clips Belgium's wings as Italy triumph

Belgium 0-1 Italy
Christian Battocchio's early goal prevented the hosts running away with things in Group 9 as Luigi Di Biagio's men closed on the leaders.

Italy's Federico Viviani battles for the ball in Genk
Italy's Federico Viviani battles for the ball in Genk ©AFP/Getty Images

Italy breathed fresh life into UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 9, ending Belgium's winning start to close the gap to the leaders.

Johan Walem's men won their first four games, stunning Italy in Rieti in September. They would have moved 12 points clear of the 2013 finalists with three points, but Christian Battocchio's early goal for Luigi Di Biagio's side moved them within six points of the Red Devils with two games in hand.

The only goal of the game came four minutes in as forward Battocchio got his head to Federico Viviani's corner from the right. Viviani then tested home goalkeeper Colin Coosemans with a testing free-kick before Michy Batshuayi's downward header somehow bounced over the bar at the other end.

Andrea Belotti failed to double the lead when sent through one-on-one with Coosemans, while after the break Francesco Bardi made an excellent save from Paul-José Mpoku to keep his side ahead and secure the three points.