In their opening match of the second round of the World Cup. West Germany and?
In their opening match of the second round of the World Cup. West Germany and Italy had to be content with a nil-nil draw. But the result did not reflect the brilliant play of the Italian side particularly in the closing minutes of the first half, when despite several close chances they were never quite able to get the ball into the net.
SYNOPSIS: The West Germans, like their opponents, clearly realised that this match could be decisive for their chances of reaching the final. Rainer Bonhof came close to scoring when he hammered in a fierce drive only to see the Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff being off a fine save.
But the last minutes of the first half beonged to Italy. First Paolo Rossi flicked a neat pass to Roberto Bettega who carved his way through the West German defence. only to see his shot kicked off the line by Manfred Kaltz. Then Italy missed two more good chances. Within minutes, in indentical moves Antonio Cabrini curled a perfect pass first to Rossi, who had his shoot deflected, then to Bettega who put the ball just wide.
At the beginning of the second half Italy almost scored again. France Causio curled a corner onto the far West German post and Bettega latched onto the rebound and smashed in a left footed drive which was again blocked on the line.
The Italians came close to scoring several times but the goal they deserved just eluded them. Luck seemed to be all on the side of the West Germans.
But the West Germans, who had said before the match they would be happy with a draw, were also able to mount a counter attack, like this move by Fischer, although they concentrated on preserving their record of not letting in a goal in this World Cup series.
The Italy manager Enzo Bearzot said later "We did not come to win, but to show that Italian football has made a lot of progress." But now, commentators are saving Italy will be difficult to stop on its way to the finals.