Euro 1968 - Italy

Euro 1968 - Italy

Hosts:Italy

Final: Italy 2 Yugoslavia 0 (Replay after 1-1 a.e.t.)

Top Scorer: Dragan Džajić (Yugoslavia) 2 goals
Teams/Matches: 4/5
Facts and Figures:

* Euro 1968 was the year that the tournament changed its name from European Nations' Cup to European Championship.

* There were also some changes to the tournament's structure, with the two-legged home-and-away knockout stage being replaced by a group phase.

* The hosts were only announced after the qualifying round, which meant that they had to qualify along with all the other teams for the final stage.

* There were 7 goals scored in 5 matches during the finals of Euro 1968, for an average of 1.4 goals per game.

* The semi-final between USSR and Italy was decided by the toss of a coin for the first and only time in Euro Championship history. USSR captain Albert Shesternyov called incorrectly.

The Final

For the UEFA Euro 1968 Final, two matches were played to determine the Euro 1968 winners. The first match took place on June 8th. For a long time it looked as if a goal by Dragan Džajić would be enough to win the competition for Yugoslavia at the Stadio Olimpico. He put his side ahead before half-time and the score remained at 1-0 until ten minutes from the full-time whistle when Angelo Domenghini levelled for the Italians. Neither side could break the deadlock in extra-time so a replay was staged on June 10th.

The Italians may have been within ten minutes of defeat in the first game with Yugoslavia but they were to establish a firm grip on the Euro 1968 Championship in the replay. Italian Coach Ferruccio Valcareggi made five changes to his side in an effort to match Yugoslavia for power and pace. As it turned out, the effort of a difficult semi-final with England followed by the final had left Yugoslavia insufficient time to recover. They did not have the strength in depth of the Italian squad and soon found themselves at a disadvantage. Italy called up Sandro Mazzola and Luigi Riva as replacements and the latter proved to be particularly influential.

Riva was returning from a broken leg but he tormented the opposition throughout. He should have scored with an early header and then missed a golden opportunity when volleying over the bar after goalkeeper Ilija Pantelić had allowed a high ball to slip through his fingers. Riva opened the scoring after 12 minutes when Angelo Domenghini's poorly hit shot turned into a through ball and Riva turned and fired it low across Pantelić. Just after the half hour mark, Anastasi flipped up a pass from Giancarlo De Sisti's and volleyed in from the edge of the box. The Italians had control of the game by half-time and Yugoslavia could never get back into the game. Dragan Džajić, who had scored an 87th minute winner in their semi-final victory and put them ahead in the first match, posed little threat on this occasion.

In the second half, Riva squandered further opportunities and Dino Zoff had to make one scrambling save to maintain Italy’s two-goal advantage. They were never seriously threatened thereafter and were crowned Euro 1968 winners in front of their home fans.

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