Marco Tardelli struck the only goal as Italy beat England 1-0 to set up a winner-takes-all encounter against Belgium.
Weak in attack during their opening goalless draw against Spain, Italy again took time to find their stride against England. Ron Greenwood's team looked the more likely scorers for much of the first half but, without Trevor Francis, lacked the firepower required to puncture one of the world's most astute back lines. Garry Birtles, earning only his second cap, was swallowed up without trace.
English heads were at least kept above water by Kevin Keegan, dredging up some of his famous energy. Exchanging passes with Ray Kennedy at high speed, he shot low just past the far post, then allowed a pass by Ray Wilkins to reach Kennedy, who hit the woodwork. In the last minute Keegan's overhead kick was saved by Dino Zoff, Kenny Sansom so nearly scoring from the rebound.
By then, though, Italy had finally found their own killer instinct in front of goal. Giancarlo Antognoni gave the ball to Claudio Gentile out on the left, Phil Neal mistimed his tackle, Francesco Graziani brushed him aside and put in a low cross which Tardelli drilled in from close range.
Italy protected their lead in typically no-nonsense fashion but knew that just a one-goal victory meant they now needed to defeat Belgium in order to reach the final. For England, there was only third place to aspire to.