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Quick-fire goals beat Belgium and keep Italy perfect

Belgium 1-3 Italy
Three goals in five second-half minutes were enough for Italy to maintain their perfect Group A record and set up a semi-final against Norway.

Italy celebrate their first goal against Belgium
Italy celebrate their first goal against Belgium ©FIGC

Italy scored three goals in five second-half minutes to come from behind and beat Belgium 3-1 and finish top of UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship Group A with maximum points.

The Azzurrine, already assured of a last-four berth before kick-off, had fallen behind to Maria-Laura Aga's strike on the half-hour but drew level on 64 minutes through Cecilia Salvai. Captain Roberta Filippozzi and substitute Lisa Alborghetti then struck in quick succession to ensure victory and set up a semi-final against Group B runners-up Norway on Wednesday.

Both Italy coach Corrado Corradini and his Belgian counterpart, Jean-Marie Greven, made changes – five and six respectively – from their previous outings. Valentina Casaroli, replacing Laura Giuliani in Italy's goal, was the first keeper called into action when Belgium captain Justine Vanhaevermaet twice chanced her arm from distance. Even more testing, however, was Celine Verdonck's powerful shot soon afterwards.

On 23 minutes Italy went even closer when left winger Michela Ledri delivered a powerful strike from 25 meters which struck the bar. Seven minutes later, though, it was Belgium who took the lead with a wonderful solo effort from Aga. The right-sided midfielder received Tessa Wullaert's corner, dribbled past Eleonora Pederzoli and Benedetta De Angelis before coolly finishing with her left foot.

Italy twice went close to levelling before half-time, but Belgium keeper Anke Langeraert produced fine saves to keep out Filippozzi's close-range header and Ledri's left-footed shot. Langeraert was up to the task once more in the early stages of second half, denying Claudia Mauri and Katia Coppola, but she could do nothing when Salvai volleyed in a corner by Elisa Lecce on 64 minutes.

Three minutes later the Langeraert was beaten again when she fumbled a ball while rushing out to allow Filippozzi to stroke into the unguarded net. The result was put beyond doubt with 21 minutes left, Alborghetti heading in another Lecce corner.

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