Spain 2-3 Italy: Emotional victory for Azzurri
The European Champions beat the World Champions as Spain conceded their first goals of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. We had expected a very tight game but the two sides served up five goals - the Italians prevailing 3-2 in a thrilling match.
"The whole squad would like to dedicate this win to Corrado Roma, the Seep Luparense coach, who was killed in a car accident yesterday," said Italy's coach Alessandro Nuccorini. "It's the least we can do to remember him. Both teams played a great match - either of us could have won - it was a fiesta of futsal. The difference today was a bit of luck."
Italy had been forced to make one change from the side which started in the historic 0-0 draw against Portugal - Gianfranco Angelini's tournament is over. The giant Italian keeper watched from the stands on crutches, his place in the squad taken by No.15 Marco Ripesi. Nuccorini had an able deputy to call on - Alexandre Feller took over in goal for the European Champions.
In fact with Spain's Luis Amado between the posts, neither keeper had conceded a goal in the competition - indeed the Spanish defence was yet to be breached during the whole tournament.
The first minute's action saw Marcelo skip round Italy captain Salvatore Zaffiro, Feller came out but blocked with his hands and was yellow carded. From the free-kick, Javi Rodriguez smuggled the ball in at Feller's near post.
Run ended after 168 minutes
Spain were well on top for the first period but Italy got back into the game with a slightly fortuitous goal - Pellegrini's corner taking a deflection and going straight in. It was the first goal which Spain had conceded in the championships - and Luis Amado stood no chance.
In a high-quality half the Italians took their chances to score twice more before the break to go in 3-1 up. No goals against in nearly three hours futsal, now Spain had lost three. Their second was a peach - Zanetti brilliantly lobbing the ball over a defender's head wide on the left before presenting Fabiano with the opportunity to slide the ball past Luis Amado.
The Azzurri's third was almost a carbon copy of their first, this time Grana's blasted corner coming off Orol.
The second period saw Spain with the lion's share of possession as the Italians invited them to attack and tried to catch them on the counter. They managed to beat Ferrer just once more - a quality run and cross from Javi Rodriguez gave Marcelo the chance to reduce the arrears.
In a frantic finale Spain took off their keeper and played Kike instead. Despite battering at Feller's goal, the Italians stood firm for a victory which was greeted as if they had won the final itself by their fans.
A relaxed Spain coach Javier Lozano was philosophical afterwards, " We have shown our capacity to fight back after going behind. Was it mistakes or bad luck? I think the latter. We will see now how strong we are. The problem is not losing a match but how we react afterwards."