EURO 2016


Five Euro moments Italian football fans can’t forget

As Italy prepares to face Belgium on Monday night as part of the bumper 24-team edition of the Uefa European Championships, we look back at the country's history in the competition.

Five Euro moments Italian football fans can't forget
An Italian fan nervously watches the 2012 Euro Cup final in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

In the competition's 56-year history, Italy have only managed to lift the cup – known as the Henri Delaunay Trophy –  on one occasion.

They have experienced plenty of heartache along the way: finishing as runners-up twice and arriving among the last four teams on further two occasions.

Champions of Europe: Italy 2-0 Yugoslovia, 1968

Hosts Italy won the tournament in 1968, putting two goals past Yugoslavia at Rome's Stadio Olimpico in the final.

The goals came from star forwards Pietro Anastasi and Luigi Riva, who is still Italy's all-time top goal-scorer, having netted the ball 35 times in 42 appearances.

Back then, there was no 'extra-time' or penalties in the final game of the tournament, and so the match had to be replayed after the teams drew 1-1 in the first game. Italy then went on to win 2-0 in the second game.

The hosts crash out: Italy 1–1 Czechoslovakia, 1980 (Italy lose 9-8 on penalties)

After their famous victory, Italy failed to make it to the final stages of the competition until 1980, when they had home advantage once again.

In 1980, the structure of the contest was wildly different from today, having just eight participants, who were separated into two groups of four.

After the group stages, the two group leaders played eachother in the final, while the two teams in second place played against eachother to determine who finished third and fourth.

Italy missed the final after finishing second place in group two and then failed to beat Czechoslovakia in a third-place playoff.

Playing in front of a packed house at Naples' San Paolo stadium, the hosts went down 1-0 after Ladislav Jurkemik smashed a creamer past 38-year-old Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff, who had been between the sticks for their victory 12 years earlier.

Italy drew level late in the match when Francesco Fraziani headed home from a free-kick for the Azzuri.

Following the final whistle, the match went to penalties, but Italy missed the chance to go to the final when Czech 'keeper Netolička saved Fulvio Collovati's penalty.

Semi-final pain: Italy 2–0 USSR, 1988

A slightly re-jigged format saw Italy facing the USSR for a place in the final, but a young-looking Italian side were no match for the Soviet's steel – and conceded twice in five minutes during the second half.

It would be the USSR's final appearance in a European Cup tournament as the forces of history were poised to topple the Berlin Wall and raise the iron curtain less than a year and a half after the match.

The USSR went on to lose the final to the Netherlands 2–0, with goals coming from AC Milan stars Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten.

From the jaws of victory: Italy 1-2 France, 2000

By the time Euro 2000 was held in Belgium, the number of teams permitted to take part in the competition had doubled from eight to 16 – meaning Dino Zoff's men had to dig in for the long haul if they were to make the final.

Inspired by captain fantastic Paolo Maldini and the talismanic Francesco Totti,  Italy overcame Romania and the Netherlands on their way to setting up a final showdown with reigning World Cup champions, France.

Under the floodlights at Rotterdam's Feijenoord Stadium, Italy struck first, with Marco Delvechhio making the breakthrough in the 58th minute.

Italy remained in front until the final seconds of stoppage time, when Bordeaux striker Sylvan Wiltord drove low past Francesco Toldo to take the game to extra time.

The game was to be settled by the short-lived 'golden goal' rule.

As the minutes ticked away, David Trezeguet peeled away from his man to smash the winner into the roof of the net at 81 kmph – handing Dino Zoff a second Euro final defeat.

A final drubbing: Italy 0–4 Spain, 2012

Four years ago, a resilient Italian side made it to the European final's once again, dumping out England and their historic bogey-team Germany on the way.

In the finals, they faced tough opposition in the form of reigning world champions, Spain.

The Spaniards proved too strong for Italy and the azzurri were 1-0 down within the first 15 minutes. They went on to lose the final 4-0, on what was a humbling night for the national side.

France 2016, in with a chance?

Four years on from their heartbreak in Kiev and much has changed for the blues, who have seen swathes of their star talent fade away or retire over the last four years.

With current manager, Antonio Conte, bound for Chelsea as soon as the tournament ends, many have questioned whether the side will be able to mount a serious challenge this time around

On paper at least, the team should make it out of their group (which other than Belgium, includes Sweden and the Republic of Ireland), but it will be a big ask if they are to make it to the finals this year.

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Italian archaeologists uncover slave room at Pompeii in ‘rare’ find

Pompeii archaeologists said Saturday they have unearthed the remains of a "slave room" in an exceptionally rare find at a Roman villa destroyed by Mount Vesuvius' eruption nearly 2,000 years ago.

Archaeologists in Pompeii who discovered a room which likely housed slaves. 
Archaeologists said the newly-discovered room in Pompeii likely housed slaves charged with maintaining chariots.  Photo: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.

The little room with three beds, a ceramic pot and a wooden chest was discovered during a dig at the Villa of Civita Giuliana, a suburban villa just a few hundred metres from the rest of the ancient city.

An almost intact ornate Roman chariot was discovered here at the start of this year, and archaeologists said Saturday that the room likely housed slaves charged with maintaining and prepping the chariot.

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“This is a window into the precarious reality of people who rarely appear in historical sources, written almost exclusively by men belonging to the elite,” said Pompeii’s director general Gabriel Zuchtriegel.

Photo: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.

The “unique testimony” into how “the weakest in the ancient society lived… is certainly one of the most exciting discoveries in my life as an archaeologist,” he said in a press release.

Pompeii was buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing those who hadn’t managed to leave the city in time. They were either crushed by collapsing buildings or killed by thermal shock.

The 16-square metre (170-square feet) room was a cross between a bedroom and a storeroom: as well as three beds – one of which was child sized – there were eight amphorae, stashed in a corner.

Photo: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.

The wooden chest held metal and fabric objects that seem to be part of the harnesses of the chariot horses, and a chariot shaft was found resting on one of the beds.

The remains of three horses were found in a stable in a dig earlier this year.

“The room grants us a rare insight into the daily reality of slaves, thanks to the exceptional state of preservation of the room,” the Pompeii archaeological park said.

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Image: Archaeological Park of Pompeii press office.

Experts had been able to make plaster casts of the beds and other objects in perishable materials which left their imprint in the cinerite — the rock made of volcanic ash — that covered them, it said.

The beds were made of several roughly worked wooden planks, which could be adjusted according to the height of the person who used them.

The webbed bases of the beds were made of ropes, covered by blankets.

While two were around 1.7 metres long, one measured just 1.4 metres, and may therefore have belonged to a child.

The archaeological park said the three slaves may have been a family.

Archaeologists found several personal objects under the beds, including amphorae for private things, ceramic jugs and what might be a chamber pot.

The room was lit by a small upper window, and there are no traces or wall decorations, just a mark believed to have been left by a lantern hung on a wall.

“This incredible new discovery at Pompeii demonstrates that today the archaeological site has become not only one of the most desirable visitor destinations in the world, but also a place where research is carried out and new and experimental technologies are employed,” said Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

“Thanks to this important new discovery, our knowledge of the daily life of ancient Pompeians has been enriched, particularly of that element of society about which little is known even today. Pompeii is a model of study that is unique in the world.”

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The excavation is part of a programme launched in 2017 aimed at fighting illegal activity in the area, including tunnel digging to reach artefacts that can be sold on illicit markets.

The Villa of Civita Giuliana had been the target of systematic looting for years. There was evidence some of the “archaeological heritage” in this so-called Slave Room had also been lost to looters, the park said.

Damage by grave robbers in the villa had been estimated so far at almost two million euros ($2.3 million), it added.