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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK

Rossi sinks the Brazilians

5 July 1982: Italy 3-2 Brazil

If Brazil and Italy win their respective groups in the 2002 World Cup and remain unbeaten, they would eventually meet in the final.

Though Brazil struggled in qualification it would set up a tremendous match on paper and evoke memories of the classic quarter-final clash in Spain in 1982.

Then, Brazil were on top form and only needed a draw to qualify for the semis.

They won their opening group games with ease, sailing past the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand without dropping a point.

" This was maybe one of the best matches, even the best match that I'd ever seen. The quality of play and finishing was just sensational "
Sir Bobby Charlton

At the second group phase they beat holders Argentina 3-1, with a young Diego Maradona being sent off.

Italy, meanwhile, had started slowly, limping into the second pool stage with draws against Poland, Peru and Cameroon.

Despite also beating Argentina, Italy needed a win against Brazil to progress.

The signs did not look promising. Their striker Paolo Rossi had returned from a ban from the game over a betting scandal and didn't look at his best.

However after just five minutes, an unmarked Rossi put his country in the lead.

But Rossi's goal didn't floor Brazil for long.

Zico turned Italian defender Claudio Gentile before feeding Socrates, who knocked it past keeper Dino Zoff for the equaliser.

But on 25 minutes a mistake by Toninho Cerezo allowed Rossi to nip away and score his second for 2-1.

Brazil pressed hard and Zoff, the 40 year-old Italian captain, pulled off a string of saves, notably from Cerezo.

"I always felt that Zoff at that time was over his best," said former Tottenham star Garth Crooks.

"I was probably listening to too many commentators, because everyone assumed that, because he was 40, he was past his best. When you look back, he was probably at his best."

Italian joy

But Brazil finally broke through and equalised for a second time through Falcao.

The scoreline would have suited Brazil. But their relief was short-lived. A shot by Marco Tardelli was turned in by Rossi for his hat-trick.

And still the drama continued. Both Socrates and Giancarlo Antognoni put the ball in the back of the net for their respective teams - neither goal was given.

At the death Zoff pulled off another miraculous save and it remained 3-2.

For Bobby Charlton, it was a game to treasure: "That last few minutes when Zoff saved it on the line, everyone seemed to want the ball to go in because they wanted more. And 3-3 would have meant some extra play.

"But I remember thinking that this was maybe one of the best matches, even the best match that I'd ever seen. The quality of play and finishing was just sensational."

Crooks recalls the reaction of the supporters after the game: "I actually saw Italian fans consoling Brazilian fans.

"I'd never seen anything like it."

Italy beat Poland 2-0 in the Nou Camp in the semi-final and lifted the trophy with a 3-1 win over West Germany in Madrid.

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