0-1, min. 37, Cayman pen. 1-1, min. 42, Rosucci. 2-1, min. 80, Rosucci.
2019 Women’s World Cup Qualification (UEFA) – Group 6: Italy come from behind to beat Belgium and cement leadership
Italy's players celebrating after Martina Rosucci's goal. Photo: vivoazzurro.it

2019 Women’s World Cup Qualification (UEFA) – Group 6: Italy come from behind to beat Belgium and cement leadership

In front a sizeable crowd in Ferrara, Italy earned a well-deserved victory over the Belgians as they edge closer towards France 2019

Gianluca Lia

Italy have edged closer towards France 2019 after coming back from behind to overcome a resilient Belgium side 2-1, at the Paolo Mazza of Ferrara.

Following this victory, Italy have opened an eight-point lead over Belgium, and although the latter have a game in hand, it looks like that nothing can prevent the Italians from punching their World Cup tickets. 

Prior the match, Italy's captain and Juventus defender Sara Gama was awarded a special shirt to commemorate her 100th cap with the national team by the newly-appoint vice commissioner of the Italian FA Alessandro Costacurta. 

Nerve-wrecking start

The first half was a pulsating with both sides threatening each other seeking the first goal which would put either side in the driving seat.

Belgium were much brighter in the early minutes as they were pressing very high but it was Italy that almost forged ahead when Cristiana Girelli hit a sublime free-kick just to be inches wide.

Nonetheless, Belgium continued to inch their way up on the field and after they threatened on 26 minutes, they were awarded a penalty on the 37th minute when Barbara Bonansea floored Davinia Vanmechelen.

Janice Cayman converted from the penalty spot to the away side ahead. 

However, a minute from half-time, the hosts levelled matters when Alia Guagni sent an inviting ball inside the eighteen on which the enterprising midfielder Martina Rosucci capitalised to the huge relief of the home crowd. 

Italy brighter 

After the change of ends, Belgium attempted a long-range effort through Tessa Wullaert before Cecilia Salvai headed straight into the Belgian goalkeeper.

The away side where more physical than the Italians but they could not break the lines and take the lead again.

To the contrary, it was Milena Bertolini's side that found the net. Girelli received the ball inside the box, danced her way past her marker and sent the ball into the far net to turn the result in favour of Italy. 

Belgium attempted a late rally in order to restore parity and grind out a valuable point but Italy's tactical organisation proved difficult to overcome as the latter went on to chalk up their sixth straight victory. 

Results and standings

April 10 - Italy vs Belgium 2-1; Moldova vs Romania 0-0.

Italy 18 points (6 matches played); Belgium 10 (5), Portugal 4 (4), Romania 4 (5), Moldova 1 (6).