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Spain stand firm to beat Italy in semi-final

Spain 1-0 Italy
Holders Spain will face Russia for the fourth time in eight Futsal EURO finals after Aicardo's early goal and a superb defensive display.

Spain stand firm to beat Italy in semi-final
Spain stand firm to beat Italy in semi-final ©UEFA.com

Spain will play for their fourth straight UEFA European Futsal Championship and sixth overall against the only country ever to beat them in a final, Russia, after a superb defensive display ended Italy's bid.

Aicardo's seventh-minute goal proved enough for the holders, who continued to create chances on the counter. They take on Russia here on Saturday in the fourth final between these nations in the eight editions, after Italy face hosts Croatia for third place.

Russia scored in the first minute against Croatia and Spain nearly emulated them, Rafael Usín hitting the outside of a post. Most of the sell-out tournament record crowd for that earlier match stayed to watch these two futsal colossi − with loud chants for both − and they saw the star of Italy's semi-final defeat of Portugal, Stefano Mammarella, pull off a fine save from Kike.

However, the holders were soon ahead as Ortiz slid the ball left for Aicardo to beat Mammarella at his near post. Amado denied Alessandro Patias as Italy responded. Sergio Lozano's effort zipped past the post, Spain still having better chances even as the Azzurri had more possession, though Luis Amado was called into action after a jinking Saad Assis run

Just over a minute into the second half Spain broke again through Alemao but he could not get past Mammarella, and his dive foiled Kike's half-volley before advancing to frustrate Borja, who had slipped clear with a fine spin. Italy, meanwhile, were seldom allowed sight of goal by Spain's watertight defence, anchored in turn by Kike and Ortiz.

Spain continued to counter at will, Lozano shooting just wide after one surging passing move and Alemao hitting the crossbar so hard the goal nearly moved. Usín was next to trouble the woodwork, while Lima made Amado save, as did Luca Ippoliti twice. Tournament top scorer Torras was the width of the crossbar away from a sixth finals goal for Spain and Alemao somehow missed from close range, but their first clean sheet against Italy took them through.