Italy beat Belgium in pre-Euro friendly
World champions Italy displayed part of
their striking potential Friday as they beat guests Belgium 3-1 in a last friendly before the start of Euro 2008.
The fast and diminutive Antonio Di Natale scored a first-half brace before being replaced by Alessandro Del Piero, who provided an assist for Mario Camoranesi's goal.
Di Natale missed two connections as Italy started off at a hammering pace, but was flawless on nine minutes when his volley off a cross from Andrea Pirlo left no chances to goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen.
Two more shots from Di Natale went begging before Marouane Fellaini on 31 minutes missed the guests' only first-half opportunity firing wide to the left of Gianluigi Buffon.
The striker scored again 10 minutes later as Alberto Aquilani pounced on a poor defence clearance and sent him away in the area for an easy flick past the onrushing Stijnen.
Italy missed a further chance before the break when a lacklustre Luca Toni headed above the bar a cross from Christian Panucci.
Toni failed to live up to the top-scorer crown he earned with Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga and was replaced on 75 minutes by the young Marco Borriello, who recently joined the Azzurri in the wake of his 19 goals in the Serie A.
Borriello, however, missed the easiest of chances before the gaping goal on 81 minutes, failing to lay in a ball squared by Gianluca Zambrotta.
The Serie A best striker Del Piero tried a couple of breaks into the area right after coming on in the second half, then on 48 minutes set up his Juventus team mate Camoranesi for an easy winning shot.
The talented and often unruly Antonio Cassano also came on to replace Camoranesi and rejoin the Azzurri since his last appearance in September 2006.
Belgium pulled one back in injury time through a corner-kick header from Wesley Sonck, who had come close when on 85 minutes seeking another header being slapped by Buffon against the post.
"The result was important, but it is more important to get ready for the European tournament," Italy coach Roberto Donadoni said.
"We played rather well. Di Natale is doing well and he showed his good form as he has often done with the national team. In general everyone did his job, but of course there are always things to improve."
The friendly was Italy's last game before their departure Monday for their Austrian camp in Baden, a village not far from Wien.
Italy debut at Euro 2008 tackling the Netherlands on June 9 before playing against Romania and France in Group C, dpa reported.