Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Congratulations to The Azzurri!

Italy Beats Germany 2-0 on Late Goals, Reaches World Cup Final
July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Italy scored twice in the last two minutes of extra time to beat host nation Germany 2-0 and advance to the soccer World Cup final against Portugal or France, who play tomorrow.

Fabio Grosso curled in a left-foot shot from 15 yards in the 118th minute to send the entire Italian squad charging onto the field in celebration. With the final play of the game, Alessandro del Piero hit the ball past Jens Lehmann from 10 yards to hand Germany its only defeat in Dortmund in 15 matches.

``To beat the Germans in their own backyard is incredible,'' coach Marcello Lippi told reporters. ``Our team played such a good match in this atmosphere. The team was composed.''

Lippi's team moved within one victory of a European best fourth title and will play in its sixth final, one short of the record held by Germany and Brazil. The team shrugged off a match- fixing scandal back home to reach the final for the first time since losing to Brazil in 1994. Italy has never lost to Germany in a major tournament.

``It was an unforgettable game,'' former Argentina captain Diego Maradona told Spain's Cuatro TV station. ``Lippi played the game of his life. Italy deserved to win.''

It's the first time the Italians have won in extra time of a World Cup since they defeated Germany in the 1970 semifinal. They hit the frame of the goal twice in extra time yesterday and were indebted to a fingertip save by Gianluigi Buffon to keep them in the game. The Azzurri exited the past four competitions after taking the game beyond the regulation 90 minutes.

Fast Pace

In a match of high tempo in front of a sellout crowd of 65,000, each team mounted several attacks and created the clearer chances at the end of regulation play. After managing just three shots in the first half, Germany had 13 efforts in total in the match, two fewer than Italy.

Italy, which has reached the final every 12 years since 1970, twice came close to winning the game in the first period of extra time as Alberto Gilardino struck the post with a scuffed left-foot shot, and Gianluca Zambrotta hit the bar a minute later.

Germany's Lukas Podolski headed yards wide when he was unchallenged at the end of the first period, and later forced Buffon to tip his drive over the bar.


``We both had our opportunities to settle it before the final whistle,'' Germany's Miroslav Klose, the tournament's top scorer with five goals, told broadcaster ZDF. ``My compliments go to Italy. They got the better of us and scored great goals in the end.''

Italy had 57 percent of possession and Andrea Pirlo, who forced Lehmann into a late diving save when the score was tied, was named man of the match.

Francesco Totti had the game's first shot on target after four minutes, testing Lehmann from a 30-yard freekick. The goalkeeper easily collected the ball, which deflected off Germany's defensive wall.

Germany's best effort in the first half came as Bernd Schneider fired over from 15 yards after receiving a pass from Klose on the edge of the area. He has scored only once in his previous 69 international matches.

Klose ran at goal near the start of the second half, accelerating past Gennaro Gattuso and Cannavaro, but failed to control the ball and Buffon came off his line to smother the attack. Lehmann cleared as Simone Perrotta raced in on goal in the 85th minute, felling him in the process, and the game went to extra time.


After only 38 seconds of extra time, Gilardino cut inside Michael Ballack and hit a close range effort against the post, before Zambrotta rattled the bar from 20 yards. Podolski headed wide from a David Odonkor cross and clutched his head in horror.

``I have to pay a huge compliment to my team for the way they played,'' Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann said. ``This whole World Cup was really fantastic.''

Germany becomes the seventh host nation out of eight to miss out on the final since Argentina won the title in 1978. The Germans last lost a semifinal that year and had won their past four straight before yesterday. They have never defeated Italy in five attempts at the World Cup.

Italy is unbeaten in 24 matches.

``The guys were great,'' Lippi said. ``They managed to roll the enthusiasm and love for football onto the pitch -- simply a fantastic performance.''


Anonymous Anonymous said...



6:57 PM  
Blogger njdoc said...

Italy played great and deserved to win. Predict they will beat Portugal in the finals.

9:30 PM  

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