Italy 2-1 Spain
Adriano Foglia's double strike puts hosts Italy in dreamland.
Italy 2-1 Spain
Foglia scored in each half to give the Italians the win their industrious play deserved in front of a sell-out crowd in Caserta tonight. The performances of Gianfranco Angelini, a goalkeeping colossus, and Salvatore Zaffiro, a defensive rock, particularly stood out.
Spain coach Javier Lozano said: "It is very hard when you don’t score goals. I congratulate Italy and they played a fantastic game."
The 21-year-old Foglia scored in the 17th and 33rd minutes to prevent Spain from maintaining their run of appearing in every final of the competition. Andrea Vicentini made the first after some excellent work on the left wing, before crossing from the by-line for Foglia to convert.
The second was even better. Foglia collected a pass from Edgar Bertoni with his back to goal. Javier Orol seemed to have the situation under control but Foglia turned him inside out and calmly slotted the ball in the right-hand corner from six metres.
Key man out
Italy's victory came despite the absence of the suspended Carlos Montovanelli, while coach Alessandro Nuccorini had to watch the match from the stands after a touchline ban. Yet, if the Italians missed their leader on the bench, their captain Salvatore Zaffiro was doing his bit. After an early flying challenge to intercept a wayward pass he leapt to his feet with a load roar. It set the tone for what was to come.
After the game, Roberto Menichelli, Italy's assistant coach, said: "We approached the game in the right attitude. It has been a really hard game but the win was deserved. We kept Spain under pressure for the whole game."
Spain had begun in controlled fashion, going close after 22 seconds from a Daniel free-kick but overall the Spanish could not seem to find their range with Joan, Kike and Merino also frustrated. Foglia was a livewire though and seconds before his first goal of the night could be seen urging on the 6,500-strong crowd. They had already done a good job of raising the volume and got their reward when Foglia provided the first goal of the night.
The second half was similar to the first. Daniel could have scored within 55 seconds of the restart but shot wide with the goal gaping while Joan's control let him down when perfectly placed to score. In the 23rd minute, Joan was played in again. He went one on one with Angelini, but fired the ball into the imposing shot-stopper's body. The ball then popped up and threatened to spiral into the net but Angelini adjusted well to tip it behind.
The Italians were facing heavy pressure but increasingly used the tactic of a long throw from Angelini to Foglia in an advanced position. As well as providing the chance of an attack, it allowed Italy to pen Spain back. A similar tactic, with a ball played up by Bertoni into Foglia, led to the second goal of the night.
When Kike was shown a yellow card, Lozano's men looked defeated. However, a rare piece of luck went their way four minutes from time. Javi Sánchez saw a fine shot saved, Kike's follow up hit the post but the ball cannoned into the net off the unfortunate Marcio Moratelli.
The last minute saw the Italian bench off their feet and the crowd screaming for the clock to keep on ticking. With five seconds to go, Kike rolled a pass towards the Italian goal and Daniel's dummy nearly deceived Angelini. It was to be the last chance. The final whistle sounded and the captains Zaffiro and Javi Sánchez embraced each other after a gruelling contest. Italian intensity had won over Spanish style.