Despite a late surge from hosts Croatia, Italy held on to finish third in UEFA Futsal EURO 2012.
The Azzurri have plenty of experience of this fixture, having played in five of the seven, and they recovered from their 1-0 semi-final loss to Spain to go two up through Saad Assis and Humberto Honorio. Backed by only the second-ever Futsal EURO crowd above 10,000, Croatia pulled one back through Jakov Grcić, but late on Italy goalkeeper Stefano Mammarella drop-kicked into an empty net. Still, Croatia's run to their best finish, watched by a total of not far below 50,000 people, will live in the memory.
Just as in their semi-final loss here to Russia, Croatia had a nightmare first minute. Goalkeeper Ivo Jukić had already made a double save when he denied Alessandro Patias, only for Assis to beat him with a low shot from the rebound.
Italy continued to have the bulk of the chances but it was almost 1-1 midway through the half after a flowing home move ended with Dario Marinović shooting just across the face of goal in his bid for a sixth finals strike.
Probably the keeper of the tournament, Mammarella did well to save from Marinović at the start of the second period. Italy remained in control, however, and were two up on 26 minutes when Honorio pounced on a loose pass.
Croatia coach Mato Stanković had just opted against using Tihomir Novak as flying goalkeeper before the second goal, but now opted for the tactic that got them back in it against Russia. Within a couple of minutes it paid off again as Josip Šuton's cross was turned in at the far post by Grcić.
Novak remained, and Croatia pushed and pushed. However, with barely a minute left Mammarella punted the ball into an unguarded net.
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