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Italy show their class again

Group 2: A late victory gave Italy a place in the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship play-offs.

Late goals
The forward, one of the stars of Italy's success at the 2003 UEFA European Futsal Championship, scored twice in the last three minutes of the decisive Group 2 game against the Belgians to ensure first place for his team. Prior to the match, both Italy and Belgium had won their first two matches in the mini-tournament held at the Palasport Mazzocco in Montesilvano.

Defensive steel
Belgium put up a strong defensive display but the Italian pressure got its reward just as the 2,200 capacity crowd started to wonder if the goal would ever come. After excellent play from Fernando Grana, Foglia's finally broke the deadlock in the 18th minute. Almost immediately after the restart, Foglia pounced for a second to give his side a 2-0 victory.

No goals conceded
As in the EURO finals earlier this year, Italy's defensive play was a major factor in their success. They did not concede a goal in their three matches, the only nation of the 32 in qualifying to keep a 100 per cent defensive record.

French beaten
They started with an 8-0 success against France, not looking back after Rocha Bertoni put the Azzurri on their way in the eighth minute. He was to score again in the second half while Morgado also finished with a double.

Surprise start
Belgium were next in action but they surprisingly trailed 1-0 at half-time against Finland to a goal from Jussi Hakasalo. However, the Belgians came back in the second half to win 4-1 after scoring four times without reply including two goals from Ylias El Haoual. The Belgians were also pushed hard in their next game against France, with only El Haoual's late goal earning them a 3-2 success.

Bacaro back
Italy, however, were still in fine form and romped to a 12-0 success against the Finns. Again Morgado led the way with a treble while there was always a double for Vinicius Bacaro, the man who scored the winner in the EURO final back in February. It meant that the final match against Belgium would be crucial with the winner progressing to the play-offs. First came the meeting of Finland and France, with the Finns triumphing 3-2 to ensure third place in the group.

Praise shared
Italy then made sure of top spot with that dramatic late success against the Belgians. Although he was the goalscoring hero, Foglia was quick to praise others. "We have all played well," he said. "We all contributed to the victory together."