Italy completed a triumphant return to women’s indoor European action as they won the Championship III title in Bratislava.
It was their first time entering the competition since 2012 and they eventually prevailed following a couple of epic battles with hosts Slovakia to win the title via a shoot-out.
They started day two knowing a win against Portugal would see them land a place in the final and they produced an excellent performance in which Maria Torbol scored a first half hat-trick and kept them out of sight with a fourth goal for a 4-1 success.
Slovakia needed a draw against Portugal to join Italy in the decider and they got the result they needed. They were 2-0 up courtesy of goals in the second quarter, Barbora Pucherova and Vyskočová on the mark and they stayed out of range thanks to Natalia Fondrkova to lead 3-1 going into the final quarter.
Claudia Fidalgo reduced the gap in the last four minutes to 3-2 but Slovakia held on for the win.
It left a strange situation of Italy and Slovakia set for two games back-to-back, the first of which simply completed the group stage positions, the second being the final with much more on the line.
In the shadow-boxing first game, Sara Agrò scored a last minute winner for a 1-0 outcome to Italy.
The final meeting went differently with Slovakia going ahead in the fifth minute through Fondrkova, an advantage they held through to Q3 when Alessia Anania tied the game up.
No further goals sent the tournament to a shoot-out; the first three rounds of regulation shoot-outs ended level at 1-1 as well and the fourth round produced no winner either.
Into the second round of sudden death, Eleonora di Mauro scored while Slovakia’s effort was denied, firing Italy to title.