Saturday 5 June 2021
While the Soviet team continued its strong participation in the European Nations Cup and reached the semi-finals in the third edition of the tournament in 1968, but luck was stubborn for the team in the semi-finals to bid farewell to the tournament by drawing a coin.
And the Italian team (The Azzurri) was lucky at Euro 1968 to win the championship title at home thanks to a coin and a replay.
And luck played its role with the Italian national team in the semi-finals, after the team’s match against its Soviet counterpart in Naples ended in a goalless draw, so that the two teams ruled for a coin thrown in the air that decided the qualification for the final match in favor of the Italian national team.
The coin deprived the Soviet team and its famous goalkeeper Lev Yashin of the dream of reaching the final, after qualifying for it in the first two European Championships.
The Azzurri reached the final against the Yugoslav national team, which reached the final after defeating England in the semi-finals, who won the World Cup just two years earlier.
But the rules of the final match were different from them in the semi-finals, where the Italian and Yugoslav teams tied 1/1 in the final after 120 minutes, which is the time of the original and extra time in the capital, Rome.
Four days later, the Azzurri won the championship with two goals in the first half, scored by Luigi Riva and Pietro Anastasi.
This victory gave the Italian team confidence and happiness only two years after the shock of the team’s early exit from the first round (group stage) of the 1966 World Cup in England, in which the team suffered a sudden defeat against North Korea.
The tournament was called for the first time (the European Championship), and the number of participants in it reached 31 teams.
Therefore, a preliminary round was held and the teams were divided into eight groups, with the first place in each group advancing to the quarter-finals.
The West German team finally joined the participants in the tournament, but it was subjected to an early exit from the preliminary round after a goalless draw with the Albanian team, to be the only time in the team’s history that it was eliminated from the preliminary rounds of any major tournament.
The Yugoslav team qualified for the quarter-finals after winning the top spot in this group at the expense of West Germany.
The Yugoslav team continued its successful start to the final match in the tournament after it overthrew the French teams from the quarter-finals and the English world champions from the semi-finals by defeating them 1-0, as Dragan Dzajic scored the game’s only goal in the 86th minute.
The England team qualified for the quarter-finals after leading Group H in the preliminary round, where the team led by coach Sir Alf Ramsey collected the largest number of points, despite the 2/3 defeat at Wembley and a 1-1 draw at Hampden Park in Scotland.
In the quarter-finals, the England team ousted its Spanish counterpart, the defending champion, but fell in the semi-final against Yugoslavia.
The Italian team knocked out its Bulgarian counterpart from the quarter-finals to meet in the semi-finals with its Soviet counterpart, who beat Hungary in the quarter-finals.
The Italian team made its way to the final through the coin, but needed more luck in the final to beat its Yugoslav counterpart and crown the championship title.
“To be honest, we did not deserve a draw,” goalkeeper Dino Zoff said years later, referring to the tie in the first match with the Yugoslav national team, in which Angelo Domenghini scored Italy’s 1-1 equalizer in the 80th minute from a free kick after Diajic advanced for Yugoslavia in the minute 39 in front of 70,000 fans.
And the match was repeated only two days later, in which the Italian national team was the best after the many changes made by its coach, Ferruccio Valcarigi, in the team.
Luigi Vieira and his colleague Pietro Anastasi scored Italy’s two goals in the second match in front of 32,000 fans.