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Casiraghi relieved at Italy progression

Pierluigi Casiraghi admitted to nerves on the Italy bench as his side sealed their last-four place with a 2-1 win against Belarus, whose coach Yuri Kurnenin said his players gained valuable experience.

Italy's players celebrate after Robert Acquafresca's winning goal
Italy's players celebrate after Robert Acquafresca's winning goal ©Getty Images

Coach Pierluigi Casiraghi admitted there were some nerves on the Italy bench before Robert Acquafresca sealed the Azzurrini's place in the semi-finals with a 75th-minute goal, his second of the game, in a 2-1 win against Belarus. The result meant Italy finished top of Group A to set up a semi-final against Germany in Helsingborg on Friday. While disappointed with the result, Belarus coach Yuri Kurnenin said his players had gained "huge experience" during their time in Sweden.

Pierluigi Casiraghi, Italy coach
It was a very difficult game and I admit we were getting a little bit nervous on the bench because we had so many chances but could not take them. It was an important result. We reached our first objective which was to get to the semi-finals. Now we will meet Germany. It will be a great game between two big teams with talented players. We played them in a friendly last winter [Germany won 1-0 in November] and we know they have a number of quality players. Both teams are excellent. I will have to wait until tomorrow to see if Paolo de Ceglie will be fit for the semi-finals, but I think it will be hard for him to be fit in time. He has quite a serious twist to the ankle and we will have to wait and see.

Yuri Kurnenin, Belarus coach
We did a very good job and it was a very good performance. We did our best. It has been a huge experience being here because most of the players play in our championship and here they saw a new level of football. We played well here.

Robert Acquafresca, Carlsberg Man of the Match award winner
I am very happy for me and the team. It was important to win and we played a great match. We did not score as many as we deserved to and missed some chances which made it close. But we overcame a difficult moment with the suspension of Mario Balotelli and the injury to Paolo De Ceglie. I am very proud of my team. It is of course great that I have scored three goals [in the tournament so far], but I'm always hungry for more. It is not important who scores the goals – our aim is to win the European Championship.