FIFA World Cup Germany 2006

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Italian heaven, Zidane's hell

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This World Cup Final will be remembered for many years for the emotions, tension and surprising ending. After playing to a 1-1 draw through two overtimes, Italy defeated France 5-3 in a penalty shootout to win its fourth World Cup and first since 1982.

France was knocked off its feet when their star Zinedine Zidane, who led Les Bleus to the 1998 Cup, was ejected for inexplicably bashing his head into the chest of an Italian opponent late in the extra time.

"We knew that with what has happened with our football, a nation . . . has the strength to get back on its feet and win over the rest" said midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, referring to a match-fixing scandal that has rocked Italian league.

The game finished 1-1 in 120 minutes, including extra time. The first goal came from Zidane, who converted a penalty shoot in a brilliant way. Materazzi scored the equalizer with a good header. But the tension and the draw wouldn't move again.

Fabio Grosso, a defender, made the final shot in Italy's 5-3 penalty kick shootout triumph over France. Fellow defender Marco Materazzi made his shot in the shootout, too.

But it's what they did on the other end that made their squad special. Italy tied a World Cup record by allowing just two goals all tournament in route to the title. One of those was an own goal. They were the best and now they have the Cup.

In fact, the "Azurri" now ranks only one behind Brazil's record five championships.

"This is the most satisfying moment of my life," Italy coach Marcello Lippi expressed with the help of a translator. "The players have unlimited heart, character and personality."


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