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Italy pip Portugal to final

Portugal 3-4 Italy
Italy trailed at half-time but fought their way back and held off a late Portugal recovery to reach Saturday's final.

Italy pip Portugal to final
Italy pip Portugal to final ©UEFA.com

Italy are through to the UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 final after a pulsating semi-final with Portugal.

The Azzurri had trailed 2-1 at the break but three unanswered goals changed the game before Portugal's late, thrwarted recovery. Italy, who won the 2003 final but lost four years later, meet Russia or Spain on Saturday.

Portugal, who welcomed back Joel Queirós but were still missing Pedro Costa with a thigh injury, had the first chance, a Ricardinho free-kick just wide on eight seconds. The first minute was not even up when Italy won a corner and Saad Assis's kick was turned into the top corner by Gabriel Lima.

Stefano Mammarella pulled off a point-blank double save from the predictably brilliant Ricardinho and Arnaldo Pereira as Portugal responded well. Ricardinho showed patience then a typically superb touch to get past Marco Ercolessi but his shot brushed the post and Leitão, through one-on-one with club-mate Mammarella, shot over.

Leitão poked a loose ball to Ricardinho, who sprinted the length of the pitch but his effort just missed the target; not too long later, though, his left-foot flick deflected in off the back of Fortino. Andjust before the break Arnaldo ran on to a Vampeta defensive header and smashed it first time past Mammarella.

As usual, André Sousa took over from João Benedito in the Portugal goal for the second half, but he was soon picking the ball out of the net as Merlim and Lima's first-time passes set up Sergio Romano to slide the ball in. Mammarella stood tall to Arnaldo after Gonçalo's pass, but he was fortunate to see a close-range Ricardinho effort bounce off a post.

At the other end Massimo De Luca did similar from further out, while Lima tackled Cardinal and broke but was denied by Sousa. Shots and tackles were flying all over the pitch, Sousa tipping over from Saad. And Italy restored their lead when a blocked De Luca shot fell nicely for Lima to lash in.

Portugal were pressing but Fortino smashed in a strike from around 15 metres out to double the lead. Jorge Braz immediately called a time-out, used Ricardinho as flying goalkeeper, and within 15 seconds Joel's deflected shot pulled one back. Pedro Cary and Leitão both hit the outside of the post in a late, desperate Portugal flurry, but they will play for third place.