Italy beat fancied Belgium to hit group summit as holders Spain also begin Euro 2016 with victory

 
Ross McLean
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Italy assumed control of Group E with an impressive 2-0 victory over much-fancied but ultimately disappointing Belgium as the Azzurri made a triumphant start to Euro 2016 in Lyon.

Premier League duo Emanuele Giaccherini, who is on the books of Sunderland, and Southampton striker Graziano Pelle were on target as Italy won their opening game of a European Championship for the first time since 2000.

Victory propelled soon-to-be Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s side to the summit of Group E and left Belgium rooted to the bottom.

Spain, meanwhile, were indebted to a late header from centre-half Gerard Pique as the tournament holders squeezed past the Czech Republic 1-0 despite a dominant showing in Toulouse. Spain are bidding to win a record third successive European Championship.