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Marco Materazzi celebrates his goal as Italy beat France
Marco Materazzi (center) celebrates his goal as Italy beat France 5-3 in a shootout, after a 1-1 draw in the World Cup final on July 9, 2006.
(Photo: Gouhier-Hahn-Orban/Abaca Press/MCT/NewsCom)

World Cup Win
By Michael Lewis

Italy is on top of the world after capturing its fourth World Cup championship Sunday night in Berlin, Germany. A sellout crowd packed the Olympic Stadium to watch Italy face off against France in the final game. It was a close match, as the two teams reached a 1-1 draw, or tie, after 120 minutes of regulation and extra time. Italy took the game with a score of 5-3 in a penalty-kick shootout.

The win also added to the team's World Cup accomplishments—victories 1934, 1938 and 1982. Only five-time champion Brazil has won more championships.

"It's an indescribable feeling," said midfielder Andrea Pirlo. "It hasn't sunk in yet."

Italy's victory was just the second time one of the 18 World Cup finals was decided by penalties. Pirlo, Marco Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Del Piero each scored with their penalty kicks, and Fabio Grosso brought the final point as he fired his attempt to the right of French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.

Meanwhile, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon didn't make a save. After France's Sylvain Wiltord scored, David Trezeguet hit the crossbar—costing his team a point—before Eric Abidal and Willy Sagnol each scored.

Noticeably absent from the shootout was legendary French captain Zinédine Zidane. The famed player, who held the World Cup trophy in 1998, came out of retirement this year to lead his team to the championship. Known for his skill and grace on the field, Zidane lost control of his temper in the final game.

In the last moments of Sunday's match, away from the flow of play, Zidane appeared to have words with Italy's Materazzi. Zidane started to walk away, stopped, turned and head-butted Materazzi in the chest. Zidane was given a red card and sent out of the game.

"Zidane being sent off changed everything," said France coach Raymond Domenech. "It's a sad way to end his career like this."

Italy's Journey

Italy began this year's World Cup journey with 2-0 wins over Ghana and the Czech Republic and a 1-1 tie with the U.S. They survived a 1-0 second-round win over Australia with a late penalty before rolling over Ukraine, 3-0, in the quarterfinals, and stunning host Germany, 2-0, with two late goals in the semifinals.

"I've won many championships but a joy so big I have never felt," said Italian coach Marcello Lippi.

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RELATED WEB SITES

2006 World Cup
From interviews to video clips, you'll find it all at the official site for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.


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