Italy 0-0 Portugal: Historic goalless draw
Italy and Portugal produced a historic scoreline in their second round opener at the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. The game ended 0-0, the first-ever goalless draw in the history of the event.
Portugal coach Orlando Duarte greeted the result with humour. "We're always happy to make history. We had mental problems in the first half. It's the first world championship for 80 percent of my players after all. But I thought we were excellent in the second period after we switched things around tactically." The coach offered up an explanation for the lack of goals: "The goalkeepers have been exceptional in this tournament so far. Goalkeeper training has come an awful long way over the last few years."
Both coaches chose to shuffle their starting line-ups. Italy brought in Montovanelli, Bertoni and Morgado while the Portuguese fielded Luis Silva and Joel Queiros.
The Italians made a breezy start and forced their opponents back on the defensive, but Grana's shot flew wide. Italy's powerfully-built keeper Angelini made his first good save after seven minutes before opposite number Joao brilliantly denied Bertoni a minute later. Italy continued to pour forward but Joao again threw himself bravely to push Pellegrini's ninth minute effort over the bar.
The Portuguese created their share of chances, but Ivan saw his tenth minute effort clear the crossbar. Joao saved from Vicentini two minutes later, and the keeper's luck was in when Grana hit the post. Then Italy keeper Angelini almost scored a novelty goal with a long clearance on the quarter hour, before Foglia saw the last effort of the half well saved.
Italy opened the second period on the offensive and Bertoni came close before Montovanelli fired against the upright. It seemed only a matter of time before the Portuguese caved in, but Joao made a stunning stop to prevent Montovanelli opening the scoring after 23 minutes. That was the signal for Portugal to battle their way back and captain André almost succeeded with a clever back-heel. Italy had been forced to change keeper at the end of the first half, the injured Angelini giving way to Alexandre Feller, and the new custodian excelled in pushing Israel's 28th minute shot over the bar.
Ivan failed to convert Portugal's best opportunity after half an hour before Feller took the sting out of André's drive as the Iberians poured forward. The keeper then repeated the feat from André's well-struck free-kick after 33 minutes, before the Portuguese captain again squandered a fine opening following Marcelinho's excellent through-ball. The Portuguese looked more likely to score than the reigning European champions in the closing stages, but Feller saved Leo's 36th minute piledriver and the game meandered to its goalless conclusion.
Italy coach Alessandro Nuccorini, shattered by the news of a close friend's death in a car accident just before the match, understandably declined to comment afterwards.