Italy aiming to honour injured Spinazzola with Euro glory - GulfToday

Italy aiming to honour injured Spinazzola with Euro glory


Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne (right) takes on Belgium’s Thomas Meunier during their Euro match in Munich on Friday. Agencies

Lorenzo Insigne says Italy are gunning for Euro 2020 glory in honour of left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who is out of a tournament he has lit up after injuring his Achilles tendon in the Azzurri’s thrilling quarter-final win over Belgium.

Spinazzola, 28, was stretchered off after 79 minutes and is expected to be sidelined for several months.

“It’s a great loss for us. We are now trying to go very far — for him. He was so important for this team,” said Insigne, who scored the stunning second goal in Friday’s 2-1 win in Munich.

“We’ll try to do everything we can to make it to the final for him,” he added ahead of Tuesday’s semi-final against Spain at Wembley.

A video of the Italian team wildly cheering Spinazzola on the plane ride out of Munich went viral on social media.

“We’re very sorry for ‘Spina’, he didn’t deserve that,” said Italy coach Roberto Mancini.

“He has played brilliantly, one of the best players at the Euro. It’s such a shame, we wish him all the best.”

Italy deserved the win in Bavaria as Nicolo Barella gave them the lead in the 31st minute before Insigne added the crucial second with a superb curling strike from outside the area.

Belgium grabbed a lifeline when Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty just before half-time, but the Red Devils could not break the disciplined Italian defence after the break.

Azzurri fans are now dreaming of seeing four-time World Cup winners Italy claim the European Championship for the first time since 1968, with Spain standing in their way in the last four.

“Now we continue to dream, but with our feet on the ground,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci.

“We started the European Championship with a dream in the drawer, let’s leave it there.

“We have a match against Spain, a national team that didn’t look like going all the way, but got back up. It will be a great match.”

Confidence is high in the camp with Italy extending their national-record unbeaten run to 32 games. While Insigne was man-of-the-match, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma twice denied Lukaku with superb saves at the Allianz Arena.

“This is my first important competition and the goal is to go as far as possible in this shirt,” said the 22-year-old Donnarumma.

“Let’s hope we can make everyone’s dream come true. We are an extraordinary group who are not giving up.”

Donnarumma’s performance even impressed Belgium goalkeeping icon Jean-Marie Pfaff.

“Italy also had an outstanding goalkeeper -- Donnarumma made sure of the win with two or three saves,” the 67-year-old said.

“Italy deserved it, they showed from the start that they wanted to win and took the initiative.”

Belgium ‘gave everything’ in Italy defeat, insists De Bruyne: Meanwhile, Kevin De Bruyne insisted that injury-hit Belgium “gave everything” in their 2-1 loss to italy. “We’re disappointed, but we have to be realistic -- we knew it would be difficult because many factors worked against us,” De Bruyne told broadcaster RTBF.

The Manchester City star pointed to Eden Hazard’s hamstring injury, Timothy Castagne’s eye injury in the opening game and the fact Axel Witsel had only just recovered from injury before the tournament.

“We had too many problems to be at 100 percent, personally, I wasn’t 100 percent,” admitted De Bruyne, who overcame an ankle problem to play.

“I thank the medical staff who did an incredible job so that I could play despite a torn ligament. I fought hard, we all fought until the end. In the first half, Italy were better, but we had chances to make it 2-2. Some people will be disappointed and will criticise us but I think the fans saw that we gave everything.”


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