Friday, 23 November 2007

Azzurri reach Euro Futsal Final

Italy's 5-a-side team have reached the final of the 2007 UEFA European Futsal Championship at the expense of Russia after a superb display in the semi-final.

Alessandro Nuccorini's side will now face holders Spain in Sunday's final, after the three-time winners beat Iberian rivals and hosts Portugal in a penalty shoot-out in the other semi.

Fernando Grana opened the scoring for Italy with a third-minute free-kick in Porto. The Azzurri allowed their opponents little space through the rest of the half, though early in the second period Cirilo hit the underside of the crossbar and Pele Junior struck the post for the Russians.

But Fabiano Assad made it 2-0 with nine minutes remaining and Russia's bid for a second title was over, while celebrations started for the Azzurri as they secure a spot in the final.

"We were very strong in defence and we did our best not to repeat the mistakes of two years ago. We concentrated hard and we were also lucky when we were 1-0 up," he said.

"I would like to congratulate my players for the effort they made both physically and mentally. They did not commit any mistakes in defence. This is the best match played by Italy in our whole history," he added.

Italy began the tournament with a goalless draw with Portugal in Group A on the opening night and that was followed with a 7-1 thrashing of Romania, which included a Carlos Morgado hat-trick, and qualification to the semi-finals was secured with a 4-0 stroll past the Czech Republic.

Nuccorini's side now have the chance to win a second Futsal Championship in their history - the first came after a Vinicius Bacaro-inspired Azzurri lifted the trophy back in 2003. But they know it will be difficult against Spain who are reigning FIFA World Futsal champions after their 2-1 win over Italy in 2004.

Semi-Final Results:
Italy 2-0 Russia
Spain 2-2 Portugal (Spain win 4-3 on penalties)

[Squad] - [Matchday 1] - [Matchday 2] - [Matchday 3] - [Semi-Fianls]

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