Ital­ian mas­tery tri­umphs over host nation Ger­many

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

THE 2006 World Cup saw the tour­na­ment re­turn to Ger­many af­ter a 32-year ab­sence and it was widely ac­claimed as a tri­umph for the host nation, spark­ing a huge up­surge in na­tional pride.

It also her­alded a re­tur n to promi­nence for the Euro­pean su­per-pow­ers, with all four semi-fi­nal­ists hail­ing from Europe for the first time since 1982 af­ter Brazil and Ar­gentina went out in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Ar­gentina cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion with a peer­less 6-0 thrash­ing of Ser­bia and Mon­tene­gro in the group phase but they were sent pack­ing af­ter a penalty shoot-out de­feat to the hosts. Pre-tour­na­ment favourites Brazil, mean­while, fell to a resur­gent France.

Ger­many’s crowd-pleas­ing run came to an end in a 2-0 semi-fi­nal de­feat to Italy af­ter a su­perb game in Dort­mund that went to ex­tra time, while a Zine­dine Zi­dane penalty al­lowed a much-ma­ligned France to over­come Por­tu­gal.

Mar­cello Lippi’s Italy won the fi­nal – their fourth suc­cess – on penal­ties, with left-back Fabio Grosso sweep­ing home the de­ci­sive spot kick af­ter the game ended 1-1.

The abid­ing im­age of the fi­nal, how­ever, was Zi­dane’s scarcely be­liev­able head­butt on Italy goalscorer Marco Mat­er­azzi and sub­se­quent red card.

GLORY: Fabio Cannavaro, vic­to­ri­ous, in 2006.

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