Belgium reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s European Championship for the first time as Tine De Caigny’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over
Italy in their final group match of Euro 2022.
A sluggish start under the blazing heat at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium saw few real chances for either opponent in the early exchanges of the must-win match for both sides.
Italy enjoyed bright spells throughout and controlled momentum after the restart but could not make the most of their second-half opportunities, while Tessa Wullaert nearly doubled her side’s advantage during the seven minutes of stoppage time.
With both teams keeping a steady eye on proceedings elsewhere, Belgium had the first early chance when Hannah Eurlings’ shot on six minutes cruised inches over the woodwork.
Elena Dhont was next with a near-miss as she latched onto a pass from captain Wullaert but could not put enough power on the ball, her effort easily caught by Italian keeper Laura Giuliani.
Belgium enjoyed nearly 60 per cent of possession through the first 30 minutes but were frustrated by a formidable Italian defence as both sides looked to find a breakthrough.
Italy looked the livelier following a 28th-minute drinks break, Lucia Di Guglielmo connecting with a Barbara Bonansea cross but unable to direct her nodded effort into the Belgian net.
De Caigny finally broke the deadlock four minutes after the interval when the ball landed at her feet after a series of scrambled touches and she sent a composed strike into the bottom-right corner.
The Italians nearly responded minutes later when Cristiana Girelli pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area only to watch her curled attempt bounce off the underside of the crossbar.
Substitute Valentina Giacinti went closest to levelling but watched as her late strike – and Italy’s tournament hopes – were thwarted by a Belgian defender.
Belgium will face Sweden at Leigh Sports Village in the third quarter-final on Friday.
Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.
In addition, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast from 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line-up around the tournament.
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: England vs Spain – kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Germany vs Austria – kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Friday July 22
Quarter-final 3: Sweden vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-final 4: France vs Netherlands – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Tuesday July 26
Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 vs Winners quarter-final 3 – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 vs Winners quarter-final 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 vs Winners semi-final 2 – kick-off 5pm, Wembley