Italy and Belgium served up one of the most entertaining international matches in recent years on Friday night in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
Considered as the tie of the round ahead of kick-off, Italy maintained their ambition of winning their first major trophy since 2006 by running out 2-1 winners.
In an end-to-end second half, it was Belgian wonderkid Jermey Doku that caught the eye of almost everybody watching, as the youngster gave Italy right-back Giovani Di Lorenzo something to think about.
He was constantly flying down Belgium’s left-wing with the ball at his feet, terrorising the Italian defenders with his remarkable levels of speed and athleticism.
First-half goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne fired Roberto Mancini’s side into a two-goal lead before Belgium reduced the deficit right on the stroke of half-time through a Romelu Lukaku penalty.
Although the game did finish 2-1 in Italy’s favour, Belgium most certainly refused to go down without a fight, creating a whole host of second-half chances, but, in the end, could not find a way past a stubborn Italy defensive line and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It was an outstanding performance and one that earned special praise from his manager, Roberto Martinez, after the match.
“Jeremy has been growing in the camp and the last three days he showed he was ready as you saw today,” Martinez explained.
“It was clear that he had energy we could use. He never looked like a young player in that game. I don’t think the occasion got to him at all.”
Doku’s performance not only earned praise and admiration from Martinez, but also from football fans across the globe who were watching on TV.
Amongst those to have taken a liking to Doku was Arsenal’s supporters, who were certainly impressed by what they saw from the Rennes youngster, who has previously admitted that Arsenal were interested in him ahead of his 16th birthday.
“I was going to be 16 and that was the age you can sign a pro contract. A lot of teams came to see me,” Doku told Ouest-France earlier this year.
“Everyone talks about Liverpool because it was the most concrete interest but there was also Arsenal and Chelsea.”
Unsurprisingly, Doku’s performance for Belgium last night got Arsenal’s fans talking, so much so that some supporters are pleading with the club to try and lure him to the Emirates Stadium this summer