Seemingly destined for defeat, Italy struck late to earn a 1-1 draw and force a replay in their 1968 UEFA European Football Championship final against Yugoslavia.
Dragan Džajić, whose goal had eliminated world champions England in the last four, again appeared to have made the difference in Rome with the opener. The home team did not give in, however, and finally drew level thanks to Angelo Domenghini’s thumping second-half free-kick.
Injuries to Giancarlo Bercellino and Gianni Rivera had let in Aristide Guarneri, which did nothing to weaken the Azzurri defence, as well as Giovanni Lodetti, Rivera's lieutenant with AC Milan. Italy struggled as a result, Lodetti and Antonio Juliano receiving an impatient reaction from the home crowd for holding on to possession too long.
Vahidin Musemić and his two wingers caused the hosts no end of problems, while 19-year-old debutant Jovan Acimovic, in for the injured Ivica Osim, was no less skillful. Indeed, Acimovic typified the impressive composure displayed by a team as young as Yugoslavia. Their endeavour paid off when Džajić pushed Dobrivoje Trivic's pass across Ernesto Castano and Dino Zoff for the opening goal.
Twice he nearly added to Yugoslavia’s lead, though there was no lack of resilience needed to maintain the advantage. Things were looking increasingly concerning for Italy until Domenghini’s efforts were at last rewarded. After hitting a post in the semi-final, he did the same with a free-kick here but then got it right with another, crashing the ball to Ilija Pantelić's left in the Yugoslavian goal.
There was palpable relief in the stands which continued through extra time and until the referee called together the two captains, who would be forced to meet again in the replay two days later.