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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 07:36, July 10, 2006
Pirlo named Man of Match in World Cup final
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Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo was named Man of the Match in the 2006 World Cup final on Sunday.

Italy beat France 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in fulltime.

Pirlo, 27, played a key role in the Italian attacking and defense and sent the first penalty shot home for Italy.

He was a pivotal presence for Italy throughout their Germany 2006 campaign, and saved one of his best performances for the biggest match of all, earning the Man of the Match honors for his display in Italy's penalty shoot-out victory over France in the Final.

Pirlo, who was also recognized as the outstanding player in Italy's semi-final win against Germany, combined with fellow AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso to frustrate Zinedine Zidane and Frank Ribery, severely limiting their ability to create chances for center forward Thierry Henry, who was restricted to just two shots in 106 minutes.

And just as he did against Germany, Pirlo also added the attacking dimension that Italy needed with Francesco Totti smothered by France's own defensive midfield pairing.

Pirlo took virtually all of the set-pieces for the Azzurri, including the magnificent outswinging corner that Marco Materazzi headed home in the 19th minute to equalise Zidane's seventh-minute penalty.

And then with the eyes of the world focused on him, Pirlo stepped up to convert the first spot-kick for Italy, setting them on the path to their 5-3 shoot-out win.

"Pirlo offered great performances throughout the tournament," said FIFA Technical Study Group member Jozef Venglos. "He moved very well, he provided the assist on the goal, he scored the first penalty, and he showed some great moves."

Midfield dynamo Pirlo has matured into one of AC Milan and Italy's most important players.

Comfortable in either a defensive, controlling midfield role or in a more advanced position, Pirlo came to the fore after his move to AC Milan.

He had a difficult spell at Milan's city rivals Inter earlier in his career, but with the Rossoneri he has won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 and the league title in 2004.

Creative, with excellent passing ability and capable of producing brilliant free-kicks, Pirlo won a gold medal at the UEFA European U-21Championship in 2000.

He then played at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, winning bronze in Athens, and also featured at Euro 2004.

Source: Xinhua

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