Italy crowned World Champions

Italy overcame their penalty shoot-out hoodoo, to be crowned 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Champions, in a tense and pulsating final played in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, Germany. It’s the fourth time Italy has been crowned World Champions.

Italy overcame their penalty shoot-out hoodoo, to be crowned 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Champions, in a tense and pulsating final played in Berlin-s Olympic Stadium, Germany. It-s the fourth time Italy has been crowned World Champions.

The match though will probably be remembered not for Italy-s win, but the way in which French legend Zinedine Zidane ended his illustrious career.

Playing his last match ever before retirement, the last image we will have of him, is of him sticking his head into the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi, after words were exchanged between the pair off the ball.

Argentina referee Horacio Elizondo, had no choice but to issue Zidane with a red card, after consultation with his linesman, who had a clear view of the incident. Zidane walked off in tears, his brilliant career ending in disgrace.

It may have been the turning point of the match, with ten minutes remaining of extra time and France looking the more likely to grab a goal, before it went to penalties.

In the end the match finished 1-1, with both goals coming in the opening 20 minutes of the match, firstly through a Zidane penalty, with Materazzi levelling with a powerful header.

So it was down to penalties and whether Italy could overcome their poor record in penalty shoot-out-s, which has haunted them for years. But it was Italy who held their nerve, with Fabio Grosso, hero against Germany in the semi final and Australia-s nemesis earlier in the tournament, scored the decisive penalty, after France-s David Trezeguet had struck the crossbar to hand the Italian-s the advantage.

The match got off to a dramatic start, when France were awarded a penalty in the 7th minute, after Materazzi was adjudged to have felled Florent Malouda in the box.

Zidane stepped up and cheekily chipped his penalty, which hit the crossbar, bounced over the line and spun back out into the field of play. However the match officials correctly ruled a goal.

However Italy were looking dangerous at set pieces and Materazzi made amends for his earlier indiscretion with a powerful header from a Andrea Pirlo outswinging corner.

Italy continued to cause problems at set pieces, with Luca Toni, twice going close from corners, with one effort striking the crossbar.

The second half was in contrast to the first half with France looking the more dominant team, however they rarely troubled Gianluigi Buffon in the Italian goal.

Toni thought he had put Italy in front, when he headed home a Pirlo free kick, but his effort was ruled away for offside and so it went into extra time.

Zidane had the best chance in the extra time with a powerful header that Buffon tipped over the crossbar, but minutes later he had his moment of madness and so it seemed went France-s chances even in the shoot-out.

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