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Pattaya Daily News

11 July 2006 :: 15:07:36 pm 7460

Italy wins World Cup

Italy has won the World Cup in a penalty shootout, beating France 5-3 in a shootout.
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   This was no beautiful game. Instead, it was a World Cup final that was at times chaotic, sloppy and ugly, with Italy winning in a penalty shootout Sunday after the match finished 1-1 after extra time.

   For France, there was only pain – and shame for Zinedine Zidane.

   The talismanic French captain, in his farewell game, was sent off in the 110th minute for inexplicably head-butting Marco Materazzi in the chest. The six-foot-four Italian defender was knocked to the ground and, after a lengthy delay that saw Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon race to the sidelines to berate the assistant referee, Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo produced the red card.

   Zidane slowly walked off, passing the gleaming golden World Cup Trophy as he made his final exit. It was one last act of spite in a tournament that will be remembered for its torrent of red and yellow cards.

   Italy‘s Fabio Grosso put away the deciding penalty as Italy won the shootout 5-3. David Trezeguet missed France‘s second kick, watching the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and then bounce away.

   Andrea Pirlo, Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero also scored for Italy in the shootout. Sylvain Wiltord, Eric Abidal and Willy Sagnol connected for France.
Had Zidane been on the field, he no doubt would have been involved in the shootout.
‘‘We put a penalty on the bar and this is how it ends?‘‘ French striker Thierry Henry said. ‘‘We played together and we lost together.‘‘

   It was the first penalty shootout in a final since the 1994 World Cup when Brazil beat Italy 3-2.

   For Grosso, it was another starring role at the tournament. The 28-year-old fullback, who recently joined Inter Milan from Palermo, won the decisive last-second penalty that helped Italy dispatch a stubborn Australian side 1-0 in the second round. And he scored the winner in the 2-0 extra time victory over Germany in the semifinals, curling a shot past a diving Jens Lehmann.

   Grosso celebrated his winning penalty Sunday with by running the length of the pitch, teammates in pursuit, toward the delirious bank of Italian fans at the other end of Olympic Stadium. It was as if he never wanted the moment to end.

   It marks the fourth World Cup for Italy, following successes in 1934, 1938 and 1982. Italy was also runner-up in 1970 and 1994.

   This one comes at a time when the Italian game in crisis, with Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina about to learn their fate in a match-fixing scandal. The two starting lineups featured nine players from those clubs, seven for Italy and two for France. Six of those nine play for Juventus, the Italian champion which faces being demoted to Italy‘s third-tier league.

   ‘‘If the scandal hadn‘t happened I think we wouldn‘t have won the World Cup,‘‘ Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said. ‘‘It has given us more strength.‘‘

   Pirlo was chosen man of the match by FIFA‘s technical study group.

   Zidane‘s red mist stunned the 69,000 inside Olympic Stadium — and a worldwide TV audience expected to exceed one billion. Materazzi appeared to have impeded Zidane on the prior play, and words were exchanged as they walked away from the Italian goal. Then Zidane turned around – and lost it.

   ‘‘Zidane being sent off changed everything because even in extra time the Italian team was waiting for only one thing and that was penalties,‘‘ France coach Raymond Domenech said.

   ‘‘I don‘t know what Materazzi said to Zidane. All I know is that the man of the match is not Pirlo, it‘s Materazzi,‘‘ Domenech added. ‘‘He got the equalizer and got Zidane sent off.‘‘

   The ejection took a while. FIFA said after the match that the fourth official, Luis Cantalejo Medina of Spain, had seen the head-butt and informed the assistant referee. It was the 28th red card of the tournament. The previous record was 22, from France 98.

   Zidane was also sent off in the 1998 World Cup for stomping on an opponent against Saudi Arabia.

   Zidane had come close to putting France ahead 2-1 in the 103rd minute, with a fine header off a pinpoint cross from Sagnol on the right flank. Buffon, stretching high, managed to get his right hand up and deny Zidane.

   The only goals of the game came in the first 19 minutes. Zidane converted a penalty in the seventh minute after winger Florent Malouda was brought down in the box. Henry rose high to head the ball to Malouda, who saw a crack in the defence and slashed toward goal, only to be taken down. It was a cheeky penalty, with Zidane ballooning the ball into the top of the net.

   The goal was only the second given up by Buffon at the tournament. The only other, against Spain in the second round, was an own goal.

   Italy pulled even in the 19th minute off a corner, with Materazzi beating Patrick Vieira to head it in.

   It was game on after that, with Italy controlling much of the play. But the Italians were unable to translate that advantage into scoring chances. The French lurched their way through the rest of the first half, with Zidane often going to ground and looking in vain for a foul. Or being crunched in a tackle.

   France‘s ineptitude was shown in two incidents at the end of the half. First a Zidane pass went straight into touch as two nearby French players looked at each other and failed to move. Then fullback Abidal flubbed a throw-in, letting the ball dribble out of his hands.

   In the second half, however, France rallied and Italy wobbled. Wingers Malouda and Franck Ribery made inroads coming in off the flanks, and Zidane and Henry began to orchestrate the attack.

   The Italian midfield, so strong in the first half, began to play as if the pitch was filled with molasses. Gattuso and Pirlo were suddenly defanged and France was rampant. Italy resorted to playing the long ball.

   Italian coach Marcello Lippi had seen enough and hauled off the invisible Francesco Totti and Simon Perrotta in the 61st minute, sending in De Rossi and Vincenzo Iaquinta. For De Rossi, it was his first action since being suspended for bloodying American Brian McBride in the first round with an elbow.

   Lippi introduced Del Piero for the fading Mauro Camoranesi in the 86th minute as Italy struggled to produce some offence.

   Domenech‘s first move was forced by injury when Vieira had to leave in the 56th minute. He brought on Trezeguet for Ribery in the 100th minute and Wiltord for Henry in the 107th.

   Zidane was hurt midway through the second half and appeared to be favouring his shoulder. But he stayed on.

   Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro, a 16-year-old ball boy when host Italy lost to Argentina on penalties in Naples at the 1990 World Cup, was a standout again at the heart of the Italian defence. The 32-year-old Juventus star showed great anticipation, blunting one attack after another. He committed just 11 fouls in seven games.

   Italy managed just five shots, with only three on target. France put five of 13 shots on target.

   The Italians had 55 per cent of ball possession.

   ‘‘Maybe it wasn‘t pretty, but we were hard to beat,‘‘ Gattuso concluded.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : Sports News

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