Just as was the case in their opening fixture against West Germany, Italy were again the better side but again struggled for goals – this time, though, one was enough.
Italy once again treated the first half as a holding operation. Paolo Maldini, at the start of a glorious international career, played a particularly key role by man-marking Míchel. The AC Milan defender was one of 17 players from the two squads who had played in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship two years earlier – with Spain winning on penalties on that occasion.
The Azzurri had the upper hand throughout in their attempt to exact some measure of reveng. Needing the victory having been held by West Germany, Azeglio Vicini's team were in control for much of the game but must have had an anxious eye on the clock when, midway through the second half, Gianluca Vialli ran down the left channel only to volley wide.
Four minutes later, though, from almost the same position, he scored with a low cross-shot after Alessandro Altobelli had dummied over Carlo Ancelotti's clever pass. With Ricardo Gallego well marshalled and Emilio Butragueño disappointing, the Italian defence did what it did best – hold on to a lead to move within sight of the semi-finals.
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