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Italy begin Euro 2016 campaign with victory

By The Assam Tribune
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LYON, June 14: Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle sparked wild celebrations by Italy after scoring the goals in a 2-0 win over world number two side Belgium in their opening Euro 2016 match.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic�s Sweden and Irish Republic drew 1-1.

Belgium�s Red Devils were punished by a ruthless Italian performance despite dominating for long spells of the Group E clash in Lyon.

Italy�s coach said the team�s first round failure at the 2014 World Cup should inspire the Azzurri to success at the European Championship.

�That open wound from two years ago needs to burn in the players,� Conte said.

Giaccherini�s strike just after the half hour put future Chelsea manager Conte�s men in front before Southampton striker Pelle sealed the win with a thumping finish from Antonio Candreva�s cross.

Veteran goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon sprinted the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations. Pelle also jumped as though he had won the tournament.

Belgium now face a crucial clash with Ireland on Saturday in Bordeaux if they are to avoid an embarrassing early exit.

A star-studded Belgian attack containing Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku were frustrated throughout by Italy�s �BBC� defence of Andre Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

�The defence was fantastic, I think we have the best back line in the competition, they made the difference,� said goalscorer Giaccherini.

At the other end, the Belgians were exposed when Bonucci�s long floated pass found Giaccherini in behind the Belgium defence to stroke his shot past the exposed Thibaut Courtois.

Belgium upped the intensity after the break and twice came close when Lukaku clipped the post before his replacement Divock Origi headed over when unmarked from close range.

But Italy continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack and sealed a massive three points when Pelle volleyed into an unguarded goal from Candreva�s unselfish cross.

Sweden held to draw by Ireland:

Ireland and Sweden played to a 1-1 Euro 2016 draw at the Stade de France, with Wes Hoolahan�s 48th-minute strike being canceled out by an own goal. The two teams split the points, with matches against European powers Italy and Belgium remaining in group play.

Hoolahan�s superbly taken finish off a bounce from the centre of the box got Ireland on the board at last after the Irish had the game�s three best chances in the first half. The goal also brought Sweden to life, as chasing the game sparked a sense of urgency. It eventually got its equaliser through an own goal from Ciaran Clark, who headed Zlatan Ibrahimovic�s close-range cross into his own net in the 71st minute.

The game also marked a meeting between the two active leading international goal scorers, with LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane (67) coming off the bench and Ibrahimovic (62) playing the full 90 minutes. � Agencies

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Italy begin Euro 2016 campaign with victory

LYON, June 14: Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle sparked wild celebrations by Italy after scoring the goals in a 2-0 win over world number two side Belgium in their opening Euro 2016 match.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic�s Sweden and Irish Republic drew 1-1.

Belgium�s Red Devils were punished by a ruthless Italian performance despite dominating for long spells of the Group E clash in Lyon.

Italy�s coach said the team�s first round failure at the 2014 World Cup should inspire the Azzurri to success at the European Championship.

�That open wound from two years ago needs to burn in the players,� Conte said.

Giaccherini�s strike just after the half hour put future Chelsea manager Conte�s men in front before Southampton striker Pelle sealed the win with a thumping finish from Antonio Candreva�s cross.

Veteran goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon sprinted the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations. Pelle also jumped as though he had won the tournament.

Belgium now face a crucial clash with Ireland on Saturday in Bordeaux if they are to avoid an embarrassing early exit.

A star-studded Belgian attack containing Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku were frustrated throughout by Italy�s �BBC� defence of Andre Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

�The defence was fantastic, I think we have the best back line in the competition, they made the difference,� said goalscorer Giaccherini.

At the other end, the Belgians were exposed when Bonucci�s long floated pass found Giaccherini in behind the Belgium defence to stroke his shot past the exposed Thibaut Courtois.

Belgium upped the intensity after the break and twice came close when Lukaku clipped the post before his replacement Divock Origi headed over when unmarked from close range.

But Italy continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack and sealed a massive three points when Pelle volleyed into an unguarded goal from Candreva�s unselfish cross.

Sweden held to draw by Ireland:

Ireland and Sweden played to a 1-1 Euro 2016 draw at the Stade de France, with Wes Hoolahan�s 48th-minute strike being canceled out by an own goal. The two teams split the points, with matches against European powers Italy and Belgium remaining in group play.

Hoolahan�s superbly taken finish off a bounce from the centre of the box got Ireland on the board at last after the Irish had the game�s three best chances in the first half. The goal also brought Sweden to life, as chasing the game sparked a sense of urgency. It eventually got its equaliser through an own goal from Ciaran Clark, who headed Zlatan Ibrahimovic�s close-range cross into his own net in the 71st minute.

The game also marked a meeting between the two active leading international goal scorers, with LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane (67) coming off the bench and Ibrahimovic (62) playing the full 90 minutes. � Agencies

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