Roberto Mancini’ Italy extended their unbeaten streak to 32 games as Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne scored a goal each Friday to give Italy a 2-1 win over Belgium and a spot in the European Championship semifinals. They now play Spain in the semifinals.
Inter Milan midfielder Nicolo Barella put Italy in front in the 31st minute after eluding two Belgium defenders and sending the ball in off the far post. Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne then increased the Azzuri’s lead in the 44th when he put a curling shot inside the far top corner.
However, the build-up to Barella’s strike overshadowed the goal itself and that too not in a good way.
Ciro Immobile, after he chested down a high cross inside the penalty area, the Lazio striker realised that Belgium defenders were closing him down and he may lose possession. So, Immobile went to the ground after a slight coming together with Jan Vertonghen 31 minutes into the match.
He stayed down and began to writhe in pain in an attempt to win a penalty for his side, who were still on the attack.
However, as soon as Nicolo Barella slot the ball home past Thibaut Courtois with a great strike, he sprang up on his feet and joined his teammates to celebrate the goal.
Following the incident, several pundits criticised while a few laughed off his antics.
Former England player Gary Lineker mocked the 31-year-old forward. He said, “He goes down and desperately tries to get a penalty “ooh I’m in agony, I’m in agony, I’m in agony" and then the ball goes in and “I’m alright". It’s amazing what a recovery.’
While Alan Shearer, another ex-England footballer called Immobile’s action pathetic. “I don’t even want to laugh at that, that’s pathetic you can see him have a look at the referee before he goes down," he said.
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen too critised Immobile’s action.
Meanwhile, renowned television presenter Joe Morrison called for retrospective ban for such acts.
Fans were also divided on Twitter as some chose to focus on the funny side of the incident while some were furious with the Italian forward’s action
Italy will next play Spain in the semifinals on Tuesday at Wembley Stadium in London. The Spanish defeated Switzerland on penalties in St. Petersburg.