Belgium reaches Euro 2022 quarterfinals for first time: 'This is a historic night'

Belgium secured the last spot in the Euro 2022 quarterfinals as Tina De Caigny's goal beat Italy 1-0 in sweltering temperatures in Manchester on Monday.

The Hoffenheim striker's predatory finish early in the second half made sure of second place in Group B behind France to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Sweden on Friday.

Euro 2022 Quarterfinals:

A 1-1 draw against a much-changed France was not enough for Iceland to progress despite being the first team to bow out of a women's Euro from the group stage unbeaten.

In just their second ever major tournament, Belgium reached the knockout phase for the first time to round off a miserable few weeks for Italy.

"This is a historic night for Belgian women's soccer," said Belgium coach Ives Serneels. "This might be the best moment yet. It has been a long time in the making. I've been with the Belgian women's national team for 11 years now, so I'm ecstatic that we're going to the quarterfinals."

Hopes had been high for the Azzurre given Juventus' promising run in the Champions League last season and the upcoming professionalization of the women's Serie A. However, they failed to recover from shipping five goals in the first half to France in their opening game.

"We lacked calmness," said Italy coach Milena Bertolini. "We put too much pressure on ourselves."

That opening 5-1 defeat meant Italy needed to win to progress due to their inferior goal difference to both Belgium and Iceland.

Chances were few and far between in a first half affected by the conditions with temperatures reaching 95 degrees Fahrenheit as a heatwave hit Britain on Monday.

Belgium got the goal just four minutes into the second half when a free kick into the Italian box fell at the feet of De Caigny to sweep home her 38th international goal.

Italy nearly hit back immediately when Cristiana Girelli curled a brilliant effort off the underside of the bar. But that was as close as they came to getting back in the game and Belgium was inches away from a second in stoppage time as Tessa Wullaert hit the post.

In Rotherham, France did enough to see off Iceland's hopes of reaching the quarterfinals, while still keeping plenty in reserve for its next clash with the Netherlands, the defending champion, on Saturday.

A serious knee injury to Marie-Antoinette Katoto that has ended her tournament gave Melvine Malard the chance to start up front. The Lyon striker took less than a minute to open the scoring when she slotted Clara Mateo's pass into the far corner.

France had two further goals from Malard and substitute Grace Geyoro ruled out after VAR reviews. And another controversial VAR call gifted Iceland a penalty with the last kick of the game.

Former Florida State star Dagny Brynjarsdottir smashed the spot-kick into the top corner, but it was too little, too late for Iceland who go out after drawing all three of their group games.


© Agence France-Presse

2 comments about "Belgium reaches Euro 2022 quarterfinals for first time: 'This is a historic night'".
  1. frank schoon, July 19, 2022 at 2:56 a.m.

    Since I hadn't followed the women's European Cup, I had no idea there was a game on last night when I turned the tv on last ,while staying in Holland. I watched the pregame show listening to 3women coaches or former players, I had no idea who they were. They were discussing the Dutch as well the Belgium team that was playing last night.

    I'm a big critic of the American tv soccer commentators and American soccer journalism for the level of their expertise borders on juvenile and the only reason it doesn't get better is the American soccer fan has not been presented with anything better and therefore don't demand it.

    As I watched these 3 Dutch women being interviewed talking about soccer, it totally bolsters my opinion on how bad we are and how we suck in  the US when it comes talking about soccer commentating, and soccer journalism.  I might not necessarily agree on certain things they were saying but they at least have a handle on things. When I hear Judy foudy or someone else of that ilk talk soccer, even the guys, and compare them to these 3 Dutch women, it is like comparing second graders to seniors in high school.

  2. Peter Bechtold replied, July 19, 2022 at 3:13 p.m.

    Last night's final, which you missed,Frank, had two American women commentating which was beyond embarrassing. I prefer to not mention their names, though I know them. They spent many situations giggling and talking down to the level of ten year olds. Is that what they expect their audience to be ?

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