Italy reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals with a thrilling 2-1 win over Belgium as first-half goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne settled a gripping encounter against the number one ranked team in the world on Friday.
However, the deficit was halved just moments later after Romelu Lukaku converted from the penalty spot following a clumsy foul from Giovanni Di Lorenzo on teenager Jeremy Doku, who was a standout performer among some of the Belgium’s more established stars
Lukaku had two great opportunities to equalize in the second half, but some last-gasp Italian defending prevented the Inter Milan forward from getting a clean look at goal.
Italy played with its back to the wall for much of the game, but Belgium’s lack of cutting edge up front meant that its veteran central defensive pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci was rarely troubled.
I don’t think we suffered too much at any moment of the game. To beat a team like Belgium, you need a great performance from everybody and that’s exactly what happened today,” Mancini said.
The Red Devils had certainly lived up to hype so far, winning all three of its group games before efficiently, if not emphatically, dispatching defending champion Portugal in the last 16.
Conversely, few had expected Italy to shine as bright as it has at Euro 2020.
The boundless energy of the likes of Leonardo Spinazzola and Manuel Locatelli have given this team an exciting attacking edge, while the return of Marco Verratti from injury has given the midfield increased control.
Belgium started this match — perhaps as expected — on the front foot, with Lukaku finding space in behind the Italian defense on two occasions early on. The chances came to nothing, but it was a sign of things to come as Belgium dominated the opening half hour.
Italy thought it had taken the lead against the run of play after Leonardo Bonucci turned home Insigne’s free-kick, but VAR ruled the defender had strayed narrowly offside.
Along with Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne was also expected to miss this tie through injury — or at least only be fit enough for the bench — but head coach Roberto Martinez surprised everyone by including the Manchester City star in his starting lineup.
There were certainly no early signs of that leg injury hampering De Bruyne, who was dictating play from midfield and looking explosive on the counterattack.
After one of several marauding runs forward, a sweet, left-footed strike brought a brilliant save out of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. The young keeper was called into action again soon after, turning Lukaku’s low shot around the post.
But Belgium would be left to regret its failure to capitalize on that early dominance as Italy took the lead on the half hour mark.
Barella picked up a loose ball inside the penalty area and somehow jinked his way through three red shirts, before firing a vicious strike in off the far post that gave Thibaut Courtois no chance.
Belgium picked up where it left off before the goal, huffing and puffing but not really troubling Italy’s back line.
However, it would be Italy that scored again and it was Insigne with one of the goals of the tournament. The diminutive Napoli forward cut inside onto his right foot and curled a wonderful effort past Courtois’ outstretched arm and into the far corner.
Belgium was shell-shocked, its players stood around with hands on hips as Martinez looked on, arms folded, already with a hint of resignation on his face.
But his side was afforded a lifeline just seconds later, as referee Slavko Vincic pointed to the penalty spot following Di Lorenzo’s clumsy push — if a bit soft — on Doku.
If the opening 45 minutes was up there with the best half of football at Euro 2020 so far, the second period didn’t begin in the same manner. Both teams seemed content with catching their breath, but Belgium soon began to press forward in search of an equalizer.
The first opportunity came on the hour mark after Doku’s incisive run and pass found De Bruyne, who squared the ball across the face of goal. It looked for all the world as though Lukaku would have a simple tap in at the far post, but a deft deflection from Spinazzola just took it out of the forward’s reach.
Italy’s defenders, in particular Chiellini, celebrated with Spinazzola as if he’d scored a goal.
Belgium continued to throw everything at Italy, including goalkeeper Courtois for the final corner of the match, but in truth the Italian back line never looked like being breached.
For Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ this could well be the end of the road, but Italy — which failed to even qualify for the World Cup in 2018 — now has a realistic chance of winning a first major trophy since the 2006 World Cup.
The Manchester City playmaker confirmed why the medical workers labored across the clock to get him match by frequently inflicting Italy issues, however Romelu Lukaku twice was denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Italy had the ball within the internet on 13 minutes when Leonardi Bonucci chested the ball previous Thibaut Courtois from a free-kick, however the purpose was disallowed by VAR for an offside towards captain Giorgio Chiellini.
Spain at Wembley on Tuesday, defeat means extra European Championship quarter-final heartbreak for Belgium, who exited on the identical stage in 2016 after defeat by Wales. Belgium sorely missed their captain Eden Hazard, dominated out by a hamstring harm, at the same time as Kevin De Bruyne received his race to shake off an ankle harm.
Marco Verratti and Youri Tielemans each earned yellow playing cards for midfield tussles involving the pair.
Verratti was booked for holding Tielemans in a sort out, whereas the Belgian picked up a yellow card moments later for clattering the Italian.
Italy broke the impasse with 31 minutes performed.
When Belgium didn’t clear, Verratti performed the ball into Barella, who stayed on his ft, squeezed previous two defenders and drilled throughout Courtois.
A chunk of brilliance on 44 minutes noticed Napoli’s Insigne double the Italy lead when he was allowed to dribble to the sting of the world after which curl his shot contained in the publish.
However, Belgium received again into the sport when a rush of blood noticed Giovanni Di Lorenzo concede a penalty for utilizing his elbow to brush off Jeremy Doku, filling in for Hazard.
Lukaku stepped up and rifled within the ensuing spot kick to halve the deficit.
With an hour gone, Belgium had one of the best probability of the second half, coming agonisingly near an equaliser, when De Bruyne’s cross led to Lukaku having his shot blocked by the thigh of Leonardo Spinazzola.
Martinez introduced on recent legs up entrance with Dries Mertens and Nacer Chadli for the ultimate 20 minutes.
There was an virtually instantaneous impression when Mertens fed Chadli, whose cross-cum-shot was deflected by Di Lorenzo simply out of the attain of Lukaku and Thorgan Hazard.
With time working out, Doku fired over after beating three defenders, whereas a last-gasp De Bruyne free-kick additionally didn’t beat the Italy defence because the Azzurri clung on.
Italy will face Spain at Wembley on Tuesday for a place in the final after setting another record by winning 15 consecutive games including European Championship qualifiers and the finals.
We are really sorry for the injury to Spina, he is having a great tournament, one of the best in the tournament, we are really sad for it,” Mancini said.
The lively Doku caused problems for the Azzurri defence all night and threatened a late equaliser when he cut in from the wing to lash a shot at goal, but it flew inches over the bar leaving the Italians to celebrate a famous victory.
Luis Enrique’s Spain side squeezed past Switzerland 3-1 in a penalty shootout earlier on Friday after their battling opponents clung to a 1-1 draw after extra time despite going down to 10 men.
The Azzurri went in front when Barella lashed a shot into the bottom corner of the net after holding off two defenders in the box. It was Italy’s 10th goal of the tournament, their most at a European Championship.
Italy looked set to end the half on a high when Insigne’s outstanding curler from the edge of the area doubled their lead.
But Belgium cut the deficit three minutes later when Giovanni Di Lorenzo barged over Jeremy Doku in the box and the referee pointed to the spot, much to the dismay of the Italians, before Lukaku converted from 12 yards.
Leonardo Spinazzola performed a superb goal-line clearance to deny Lukaku an equaliser after the break, but the impressive Italy left-back’s night ended in tears when he was carried off on a stretcher.
US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Friday
“The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking on many levels; hopefully, her acceptance of responsibility and apology will be an important example to us all that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of this one to her,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in a press release.
Richardson had booked her spot at the Tokyo Olympics with a runaway victory in the women’s 100m at the US Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon last month. Due to the positive test, her Olympic trials results were automatically disqualified and she will not be allowed to participate in her signature 100m race at the Tokyo Olympics later this month.
“Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes. Beyond the one-month sanction, athlete eligibility for the Tokyo Games is determined by the USOPC and/or USA Track & Field eligibility rules.”
“Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved,” USA Track and Field said in a statement. “Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future.”
It’s unclear whether Richardson will miss the Games altogether. She may still be eligible to compete in another event besides the 100m, such as the 4x100m relay.
Richardson appeared on NBC’s TODAY show on Friday morning and said: “I just want to take responsibility for my actions, I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m allowed not to do and I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case.”
Richardson cited finding out from a reporter that her biological mother had passed away as part of the reason she consumed marijuana, saying: “I was just thinking it would be a normal interview and then on the interview to hear that information come from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering, it was nerve shocking because it’s like who are you to tell me that?
“From there just blinded by emotions, blinded by bad news, blinded by just hiding hurt, honestly for the fact that I can’t hide myself, so at least in some type of way, I was trying to hide my pain.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the USADA label cannabis as a banned substance as it “poses a health risk to athletes, has the potential to enhance performance and violates the spirit of sport.”
“Everything I do comes from me naturally. No steroid(s). No anything. This incident was about marijuana. After my sanctions are up, I’ll be back and able to compete and every single time I step on the track I’ll be ready to compete for whatever anti-doping agency to come and get what it is that they need,” Richardson concluded.
Meanwhile the presence of marijuana on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list has long been controversial. Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was originally stripped of his 1998 Olympic gold medal after testing positive for THC but that decision was overturned since it wasn’t on the banned substance list at the time. USADA singles out three reasons why cannabinoids are banned: athletes could endanger themselves and others because of slower reaction times and poor executive function and decision making, marijuana can be “performance enhancing for some athletes and sports disciplines,” and the use of “illicit drugs that are harmful to health” is “not consistent with the athlete as a role model for young people around the world”.
As for the moral high-horse bit: can anyone reasonably argue, in this day and age, that an athlete using marijuana deserves a boot from the Olympics because such behavior is “not consistent with the athlete as a role model for young people around the world?” In a world where momentum for legalization is growing (it’s legal in Oregon, where Richardson competed at Trials)? In a situation where someone may have turned to a legal substance to cope with grief? Come on.
None of these reasons seem to apply in Richardson’s case. She endangered no one at the track: quite the opposite, she distanced herself from the competition. The performance-enhancing benefits of marijuana are, if not specious, at least very much up for debate. A 2018 literature review published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, for example, said that “although cannabis use is more prevalent in some athletes engaged in high-risk sports, there is no direct evidence of performance-enhancing effects in athletes.” Even USADA’s statement on Richardson’s suspension acknowledges “her use of cannabis occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance.”
Serena Williams broke down in tears as she was forced to retire in the opening set of her first-round clash at Wimbledon.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner, who is still pursuing Margaret Court’s all-time record, started Tuesday evening’s match against world number 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich well though but had to retire from the game due to injury to her right thigh.
The 39-year-old American, who wore strapping on her right thigh from the start of the match, broke Sasnovich in the Bulgarian’s second service game but appeared to roll her ankle in the process of returning a shot.
Kim Kardashian West’s shapewear brand Skims will supply Team USA with undergarments, loungewear and pajamas for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the star announced Monday.
The womenswear collection features sports bras, shirts, vests, cycle shorts and high-waisted briefs printed with American flags, the five Olympic rings and Team USA branding.
Announcing the collaboration on social media, the reality star and entrepreneur said the Games are close to her heart, as her former stepparent Caitlyn Jenner was a gold medal-winning decathlete. In an Instagram post, she recalled attending Olympic trials and track events as a child, when her mother Kris Jenner was still married to the former athlete.
“As I would watch the athletes compete, I would grow to understand the dedication and honor being a part of the Olympics embodied,” Kardashian West wrote, adding: “Every moment I’ve spent admiring the strength and energy of the Olympians from the sidelines came full circle.”
A series of campaign photographs show the garments being modeled by various members of Team USA, including Paralympian Scout Bassett and basketball player A’ja Wilson. Soccer star Alex Morgan is pictured wearing a white Skims x Team USA shirt featuring a large American flag and the Olympic logo.
On Instagram, Bassett called the capsule collection “a DREAM,” adding that she was “thrilled to be part of the new @skims Team USA capsule that celebrates female athletes!” Gold medal-winning track and field athlete Dalilah Muhammad meanwhile wrote that she “can’t wait to look this good in the Olympic village.”
Kardashian said that Skims had been invited by Team USA to produce the items. The designs will be made available for sale as a limited-edition collection from mid-July, according to a press release.
The brand has previously stirred controversy in Japan, which is hosting the Olympics for the second time, having launched in 2019 under the name Kimono — a play on both the star’s name and the traditional Japanese outfit of the same name. The name attracted accusations of cultural appropriation, leading to Twitter protests under the hashtag #KimOhNo.
After Kardashian West attempted to trademark the name, the mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, wrote an open letter to the star, saying, “We think that the names for ‘Kimono’ are the asset shared with all humanity who love Kimono and its culture therefore they should not be monopolized.”
In response, Kardashian West said her brands were “built with inclusivity and diversity at their core,” before renaming the label Skims.