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Italy's Vialli breaks Spain's resistance in EURO 1988 Group 1

Italy 1-0 Spain
Gianluca Vialli scored the only goal 17 minutes from time.

Gianluca Vialli in action against Spain
Gianluca Vialli in action against Spain Icon Sport via Getty Images

Just as was the case in their opening fixture against West Germany, Italy were again the better side but again struggled for goals – this time, though, one was enough.

Italy once again treated the first half as a holding operation. Paolo Maldini, at the start of a glorious international career, played a particularly key role by man-marking Míchel. The AC Milan defender was one of 17 players from the two squads who had played in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship two years earlier – with Spain winning on penalties on that occasion.

EURO 1988: All you need to know

The Azzurri had the upper hand throughout in their attempt to exact some measure of revenge. Needing the victory having been held by West Germany, Azeglio Vicini's team were in control for much of the game but must have had an anxious eye on the clock when, midway through the second half, Gianluca Vialli ran down the left channel only to volley wide.

Keeper Walter Zenga celebrates Italy's goal
Keeper Walter Zenga celebrates Italy's goalBob Thomas Sports Photography vi

Four minutes later, though, from almost the same position, he scored with a low cross-shot after Alessandro Altobelli had dummied over Carlo Ancelotti's clever pass. With Ricardo Gallego well marshalled and Emilio Butragueño disappointing, the Italian defence did what it did best – hold on to a lead to move within sight of the semi-finals.

EURO 1988: Team of the Tournament


Spain line up for the game in Frankfurt
Spain line up for the game in FrankfurtIcon Sport via Getty Images

Italy: Zenga; Ferri, Baresi, Bergomi (c); Maldini, Ancelotti, Giannini, De Napoli, Donadoni; Vialli (De Agostini 88), Mancini (Altobelli 69)
Substitutes: Ferrara, Tacconi, Fusi
Coach: Azeglio Vicini

Spain: Zubizarreta; Soler, Andrinúa, Sanchís, Tomás; Gordillo (c), Víctor, Gallego (Martín Vázquez 68), Míchel (Begiristain 73); Bakero, Butragueño
Substitutes: Eloy, Diego, Buyo
Coach: Miguel Muñoz

Referee: Erik Fredriksson (Sweden)