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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 09:13, July 10, 2006
Italy break penalty jinx to win World Cup title
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Italy broke their penalty jinx here on Sunday, winning 5-3 on shootout over France for their fourth World Cup triumph after tying 1-1 in 120 minutes.

It's the first world title for Azzurri in 24 years after they last lifted the trophy in 1982, though the Italian side entered Sunday's match with a formidable resume featuring three World Cup titles and five appearances in the final.

"I have to say thanks to the players. This is the most satisfying moment of my life," said Italian coach Marcello Lippi.

"I dedicate the victory to my family. The players have unlimited heart, character and personality. Winning the World Cup is the greatest satisfaction that any coach or footballer can ever feel."

"I've had the fortune to win the Champions League and lots of Serie A titles, but I've never felt anything like this," he added.

Being one of soccer's traditional powers since the tournament began in 1930, Italy only other stamped their superiority in the event's Stone Age of 1934 and 1938.

Captain Fabio Cannavaro, playing in his 100th game for Italy, said his side had achieved what nobody thought they could.

"Germany won the World Cup in Italy and now we have come here and won it," he said. "No one would have imagined it at the start of the World Cup, but we have won, so we're happy."

Sunday's game has been regarded as the best chance of the Italians to again put hands on the top glory of the soccer world after decades.

Azzurri made the semifinals on home soil in 1990, only being stopped by Argentina on penalties. Four years later they reached the final in the United States and lost to Brazil again on penalties.

At the 1998 World Cup finals, the penalty shootout duck continued to harass them as they advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to hosts and eventual winners France on penalties, again.

In 2002, Ahn Jung-hwan's golden goal sent Italy home after only the second round, although the defeat to South Korea was blamed on Ecuadorean referee Byron Moreno.

But in Sunday's final, the first all-European World Cup since 1982, the Italians faced down the penalty jinx with courage and skills, and they eventually made it.

Fabio Grosso, who struck the winning penalty for Italy, said: "It 's incredibly emotional, words can hardly describe it. Maybe we still don't realize what we have achieved. We really wanted to win and in the end we made it."

Andrea Pirlo, Marco Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Del Piero and gennaro Gattuso all converted their penalty past French keeper Fabien Barthez, while David Trezeguet turned out to be the one to blame for France's loss.

The veteran striker, 29, came as the second French player to the spot, driving the ball to hit the bar before it bouncing out of the goalline.

Les Bleus, overcoming a slow start and criticism of aging, has reached its second tournament final in three World Cups by playing soccer reminiscent of its 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships triumphs, carrying a more impressive list of victims Spain, Brazil and Portugal, comparing to Italy beating Australia, Ukraine and Germany.

Zinedine Zidane, who had lifted his team more than anybody, ruined his career at the final match before retiring from international football, committed a ugly sending-off in 20 minutes of the extra time on Sunday.

The Real Madrid midfielder clearly head-butted Italian left-back Marco Materazzi in the chest in 109 minutes.

Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo was finally notified why the Italians were furious and decided to flash Zidane a red card to reduce France to ten men, while Malouda was also booked for complaining.

France coach Raymond Domenech rued on the dismission of Zidane.

"The sending off of Zidane changed the match, that was the key moment of the game," he said. "We had been playing better than Italy in extra time and you could see they were just waiting for penalties.

"It was a pity that we were without Zidane for the last 10 minutes, it affected our balance and perhaps it should not have happened."

"The referee was not on our side. I don't know what Materazzi told Zidane. All I know was the man of the match was not Andrea Pirlo but Materazzi, he scored the equaliser and he had Zidane sent off," he added.

"It's sad, it's a pity. He really put on a great show when he fell down. We know how these things work."

Materazzi headed in an equalizer on 19 minutes to atone for giving away the 7th minute penalty, which gave France an earlier chance to open the scoring.

The Inter Milan left back jumped high to meet Andrea Pirlo's corner and powered a header beyond French goalie Fabein Barthez for the equalizer.

Earlier, Materazzi had clipped down Florent Malouda on the 6th minute and French skipper Zinedine Zidane was on the spot to convert it in the next minute to put France ahead.

Source: Xinhua

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