It’s Italy

Italy somehow overcame history and beat France in penalty kicks to win the 2006 World Cup. 1-1 (5-3). David Trezeguet helped by being the only one to miss. He’s another one of those much lauded players I’ve never seen do anything of note.

France dug their own grave today. They scored first and quickly on a questionable penalty, but then let Italy right back in it before 20 minutes were played. It was scoreless after that, but France had the better of it the whole way.

Then Zidane, unbelievably, after being worshipped all day by the grovelling ESPN announcers, had a perfect header and planted it perfectly. Unfortunately it wasn’t the ball, what he buried was one Marco Materazzi–who must have been making disparaging comments about his lineage. In what is bound to go down as the first use of video instant replay in soccer (it was rather apparent no official saw it happen), the great Zidane brought his glorious career to an infamous end, and was rightly sent off.

That sparked Italy a bit, but not enough. France then had to yank Thierry Henry, always accused of not showing up in big matches anyway. He was there today, just didn’t accomplish much.

Italy staggerd into penalty kicks having never won in that situation in the World Cup. I’m sure that wasn’t their grand plan, but there they were. The best keeper in the world, against a crazy man (Barthez). Oddly, the penalties ended up having nothing to do with either of them.

France’s two best penalty takers (maybe their 3 best–I’m not sure about Ribery), were all off by the time the chips were down. The one person I thought would have been France’s sure bet, Trezeguet, ended up missing off the bar, while Italy, rather cautiously, buried all their attempts.

Congratulations Italia. It was a pleasure.

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