Italy claim third place after thriller
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Italy finished in third place at Costa Rica 2014 on penalties following an action-packed 4-4 encounter against Venezuela. Venezuela remarkably equalised on four occasions including a last second goal from defender Sandra Luzardo, only for Italy to prevail 2-0 on penalties.

Both teams were featuring in the semi-final stage of the tournament for the first time, with Venezuela being the first South American side to do so. Italy took the lead with Valentina Bergamaschi finishing coolly from near the penalty spot after a wonderful run and pull-back down the right flank from Gloria Marinelli.

Both teams had a number of half-chances but the best opportunity of the half saw Venezuela’s Daniuska Rodriguez blaze over from 15 metres after exchanging passes with Gabriela Garcia. Captain Lourdes Moreno then failed to keep her shot down, again after being set up by Garcia.

The South Americans, however, were eventually rewarded with virtually the last kick of the half as Tahicelis Marcano fired in a long-range missile over the head of the goalkeeper. Tournament leading scorer Deyna Castellanos, who had scored in five straight matches, came close to putting Venezuela in front early in the second period but her shot after a sharp turn struck the post.

However, with the match opening up it was Italy that reclaimed the lead ten minutes after the interval as star playmaker Manuela Giugliano finished a nice passing move with a shot from 25 metres over the head of the goalkeeper in similar fashion to Venezuela’s goal. Venezuela equalised on the hour mark with Garcia heading in a back-post corner with the help of a deflection.

However, the match took another turn within seconds as Giugliano scored her second with a perfectly hit volley from the edge of the penalty area. Venezuela equalised for their third time within a matter of minutes as Garcia also bagged her second by lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper following a superb forward pass from Rodriguez.

The powerful Garcia could then have had a hat-trick after out muscling the defence but Francesca Durante did enough to push the shot away. Giugliano lifted a perfect short pass over the back four for Simonetti to coolly bringing the ball down on her thigh before firing home for what would have been an apt winner

Somehow, Venezuela equalised for the fourth time five minutes into injury time with Sandra Luzardo crashing home a loose ball in the penalty area after Italy failed to clear following a corner. However, the penalty shoot-out proved to be a disaster for the South Americans who missed two and saw two saved by goalkeeper Durante.

Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Gabriela Garcia (Venezuela)