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Riva steers Italy to EURO 1968 final replay win against Yugoslavia

Italy 2-0 Yugoslavia
Returning from a broken leg, Luigi Riva proved instrumental in the Rome rematch.

EURO 1968 final highlights: Italy 2-0 Yugoslavia

The Azzurri came within ten minutes of defeat in the first attempt to decide the 1968 UEFA European Championship winners but they returned to Rome's Stadio Olimpico 48 hours later as a different proposition, dominating Yugoslavia from the off.

Coach Ferruccio Valcareggi made five changes to his side, reflecting a desire to match Yugoslavia for power and pace – just when the Yugoslavians had none left. Two hard games, including a semi-final against England and then extra time versus Italy, had sapped them – and they did not have Italy's strength in depth. Any country that could call up Sandro Mazzola and Luigi Riva as replacements deserved to be regarded as the best in Europe.

EURO 1968: All you need to know

Riva's recall made the difference. Returning from a broken leg (not for the first time), he exemplified the whole team: sometimes raw, sometimes clever, always tenacious. He should have had a hat-trick, putting one header just wide, forcing a save with another and volleying over an open goal after goalkeeper Ilija Pantelić let a high ball slip through his fingers.

When Riva did score, it was with his famous left foot, after Angelo Domenghini's scuffed shot turned into a through ball. Marginally but definitely onside, Riva turned and hit it low across Pantelić.

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 1968

Meanwhile, Pietro Anastasi was having a better game this time, all speed and sharpness: taking the ball down on his chest after Riva won it in the air, he volleyed just wide as he fell. Riva gave him some grief for the miss – it was 0-0 at the time – but joined the celebrations when Anastasi flipped up Giancarlo De Sisti's angled pass and volleyed in splendidly from the edge of the box after the half-hour.

That was game, set and match, because there was little coming through from the opposition. Tarcisio Burgnich, one of the great right-backs, had few problems against Dragan Džajić. Mirsad Fazlagić overlapped well as usual, yet Jovan Aćimović struggled to influence the game and the call-up of Idriz Hošić, Yugoslavia's one replacement, did not have the desired effect.

 Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti with the trophy
Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti with the trophyAlamy Stock Photo

In the second half, Riva failed to make the most of further opportunities and Dino Zoff had to make one scrambling save, but it was all academic. Having booked their place in the final with a coin toss against the Soviet Union, and come through a taxing first encounter in the 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia two days before, the hosts were possibly due an easier ride.


Dino Zoff, Italy goalkeeper: "We didn't deserve to draw [the original tie]. But we finished level, so the final had to be replayed two days later. In the replay we produced a perfect performance and won 2-0 thanks to goals by [Gigi] Riva and [Pietra] Anastasi. We definitely deserved to win that game."

EURO 1968: Team of the Tournament


Italy team after  the 1968 final
Italy team after the 1968 finalGetty Images

Italy: Zoff; Facchetti (c), Rosato; Salvadore, Guarneri, Burgnich; De Sisti, Mazzola; Riva, Anastasi, Domenghini
Substitutes: none
Coach: Ferruccio Valcareggi

Yugoslavia: Pantelić; Fazlagić, Damjanović, Paunović, Holcer; Pavlović, Aćimović, Trivić, Hošić; Musemić, Džajić (c)
Substitutes: none
Coach: Rajko Mitić

Referee: José María Ortiz de Mendíbil (Spain)