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Jul 5, 2006

Italy beats Germany to make World Cup final

Socceroo fans still looking for dogs to kick over our loss to Italy now have new fuel for their despair. Clearly, it should have been Australia that beat Germany 2-0 overnight to book

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Socceroo fans
still looking for dogs to kick over our loss to Italy now have new fuel for their despair. Clearly, it
should have been Australia that beat Germany 2-0 overnight to book a place in the World Cup final.

Yet again, Italy’s win came in the form of last minute drama after a
draining and exciting first semi-final at Dortmund. The Germans and Italians were locked at 0-0 at the
whistle, so the match went into extra time. With 119 minutes on the clock, who
else but Fabio Grosso scored with a left-footer that curled past the German
keeper Jens Lehmann.

That left the
home team 1-0 down and playing added time, of extra time. Step in Italian
substitute Alessandro Del Piero, who found the back
of the net on a breakaway in the 121st minute to end the contest.

The
final (Berlin, Sunday) will be the sixth for the Azzurri, and Italy’s first appearance in the decider since
1994. They play the winner of tonight’s France-Portugal semi (5
am,
AEST).

Despite the 0-0
scoreline at the end of full time, the semi-final was an absorbing match. The
Italians enjoyed the most chances but it wasn’t all one way. The German crowd
had several moments where they must have thought their team would score, such as in
the 61st minute when Lukas Podolski
brilliantly beat the Italian defence to enjoy a shot from point blank range.
Only a reflex save from the Italian keeper, Gianluigi Buffon, denied him.

In extra time,
the Italians looked more dangerous from the start, shaking the Germans with two
shots that bounced off the goal frame in the opening two minutes.

In fact, the
match went up several notches in the shadows of a penalty shoot-out. In the 111th
minute, Del Piero only had to beat Lehmann, but couldn’t find an angle to sneak
the ball past the tireless German keeper. Almost immediately, the Germans swept
the ball to the other end where Podolski’s brilliant strike was only stopped by
a one-handed tip-over from Buffon.

He keeps his record intact, by the way –
still not having let in a goal from an opponent throughout the tournament (the
Italians scored one own-goal).

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