Italy won the 3-1 win over Belgium in its opening game at the World Cup Qualifiers at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, securing a place in the next round of qualifying.
The game was a rematch of the 2-1 defeat Italy suffered to Portugal at the Maracana Stadium on May 30, and a friendly for the second successive World Cup qualifiers.
It was the first time Italy has reached the final since losing 3-2 to Portugal in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
It is also the first defeat in Brazil’s qualifying campaign and the first to beat Italy in a competitive match at the venue.
“The result is very important for us.
It gives us a chance to advance to the next phase of the qualifying process,” Italy’s sporting director Luca Zontini told the Corriere dello Sport.”
We will now try to defend against Brazil in their next game.
It is a very important game for us, but we are not satisfied with our first result.”
Battling the Brazilians in the group stage, Italy came from behind twice in a 3-3 draw at the Parc des Princes.
It was a rare result for the Serie A leaders, who have lost five of their last six qualifying matches.
Bastia, who lost 2-0 at home to Italy in the Group C quarter-final, were also the only team to reach the quarter-finals at the tournament.
The result does not mean Italy is guaranteed a place at next month’s World Cup, but the final is the most important tournament in the competition.
The Italian squad for next month has already been announced, with Brazil, Portugal and Russia set to qualify for the knockout stages.