Italy have finished third at Thailand 2012 after a 3-0 win over Colombia in the bronze-medal match at Bangkok’s Huamark Stadium. Goals from Sergio Romano and Rodolfo Fortino (2) were enough to secure a well-deserved win for Roberto Menichelli’s side, who would undoubtedly have won by more had it not been for the heroics of Los Cafateros’ goalkeeper, Juan Lozano.
The game quickly settled into the expected pattern, with Italy dominating and Colombia relying on their now customary containing, counter-attacking tactics. The South Americans were also leaning heavily, as always, on Lozano, who made a string of fine early saves from Alex Merlim, Saad Assis and Marco Ercolessi
There were also glorious first-half chances for Italy’s Gabriel Lima and Alejandro Serna of Colombia, but both shared the same fate, with neither keeper called into action as the ball was directed wide of the target.
It wasn’t long before Lozano was back in action though, and three times in the opening seven minutes of the second half he produced truly magnificent saves to keep out goal-bound efforts from Assis, Lima and Sergio Romano.
It was clear that it was going to require something special to beat a goalkeeper in inspired form, and Romano provided that moment of magic eight minutes into the second half. Loitering midway inside the Colombia half, he met flush on the volley a chipped corner from Assis and sent the ball rocketing beyond the helpless Lozano.
Worse was to follow for Los Cafateros four minutes later when the brilliant Lozano was sent off for handling outside his area and, in doing so, denying the Italians a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Gli Azzurri took full advantage of the numerical advantage, doubling their lead a minute later when Fortino slotted home left-footed from an incisive pass by Lima, and rounding off the win in the dying seconds with another close-range finish from the same player.
“I must congratulate Colombia because they played a great match and didn’t give us any space in which to work. The key for us was in remaining patient because the way they defend means that going for all-out for a goal would have left us very vulnerable to the counter-attack. Naturally, we are very satisfied by finishing third at this tournament. For us, it was important – and a source of great pride – that we have finished as the second-ranked European team after Spain. There are some great teams that haven’t managed to finish as highly as we have,” Roberto Menichelli, Italy coach.
“Things were pretty equal in the first half, but we paid for one lapse of concentration in the second half. After the red card for our goalkeeper, everything was easier for Italy. But I have told my players to keep their heads up because they have been great representatives of Colombian futsal. We hope to be back in four years’ time,” Arney Fonnegra, Colombia coach.