Playing in a torrential Asuncion summer rain storm, Italy won a thrilling back-and-forth semi-final to defeat Russia 8-7 after extra time.
Gabriele Gori and Dario Ramacciotti both scored hat-tricks to lead Gli Azzurri to their first Beach Soccer World Cup final since 2008.
Andrei Novikov opened the scoring with his first goal of the tournament, a free-kick from about midway. Italy captain Francesco Corosiniti equalised with a header from a corner kick before Dario Ramacciotti capitalised on a mistake by Alexey Makarov to put Azzurri in front after the first period.
Makarov made amends at the beginning of the second period, hitting a powerful shot into the top corner. Then Ramacciotti put Italy back in the lead before Fedor Zemskov scored a double before the second interval.
Gori, now on a tournament-leading 16 goals, scored three goals in a wild third period, which also saw Kirill Romanov score a brace, Makarov add another and Ramacciotti completed his hat-trick to send the game into extra time.
Emmanuele Zurlo once again scored the winning goal, this time from the penalty spot after Artur Paporotnyi saw red, to ensured Italy booked a place in Sunday’s final. The Italians already know they will better their performance from two years ago, when they finished in fourth place.
That was probably the craziest match I’ve ever played in, not only because of the wind and the rain, but also because of the lead changes. Russia is a great team, they did some impressive things today. Why did we win it? Because we scored one more goal; there is no other way to explain a game like that one.
Final – 1 December
Italy – Portugal (18:00 local time)
Play-off for third place – 1 December
Russia – Japan (16:15 local time)