Last match, & I screw up just like the 1st English game. Only realized the match was on the way when I heard screams from other FRC residents while I was cleaning a spud for a dinner of jacket potato. The screams were for Materazzi’s 19th minute headed goal from a set piece to cancel Zizou’s 7th minute penalty. I’ll be darned if those 2 are the only goals of the match. I am blogging this live at the end of each half/interval.
Italy 1 – France 1 (Italy wins the World Cup 2006 5-3 on penalties)
The internet video feed that I am getting is rather choppy today, probably due to internet traffic congestion. It gets frustrating as the feed freezes at inappropriate intervals like set pieces or when a team is on the attack.
I gotta say, the Azzurri look more dangerous after the equalizing goal with several close attempts on goal via corners. The French were terrible defending those corners. Nevertheless, Les Bleus do make attempts on Buffon’s goal with the pace of Henry at their disposal. Ball possession was 59% Italy, 41% France after 35 minutes. The 1st half ended without anymore goals & I am off to settle my jacket potato dinner during the break.
Thierry Henry’s pace continued to torment Buffon’s goal in the 2nd half, with Italy looking dangerous on the break & from set pieces. My heart almost skips a beat everytime the Azzurri get a set piece. French midfield suffered a bit with injury to Vieira at the 55th minute, who was promptly replaced by Alou Diarra. A funny thing happened when the official who operated the substitution board got Vieira’s number wrongly & caused a minor confusion.
5 minutes later, directly after substituting 2 players including taking off Totti, Luca Toni scored an offside goal from a free kick. France mainly controlled the game subsequently with the Azzurri playing more defensively. It’s a finely balanced game thus far. Henry had another shot saved by Buffon @ 62. Luca Toni also had a good shot on goal amidst handball claims by the French defense.
Zizou gave an injury scare with a shoulder knock but subsequently soldiered on. Lippi threw Del Piero into the mix @ 86 but it did not improve the Azzurri’s continuously defensive play. France had more chances at goal in the dying minutes of normal time & we’ll have extra time. I am getting a bad omen for Les Bleus.
Another missed chance for the French 9 minutes into extra time. This time it’s Franck Ribery who was duly replaced by David Trezeguet. Buffon saved another header from Zidane. Domenech then introduced Sylvain Wiltord & took off Titi Henry. I can’t believe it! Hmmm, Titi did look knackered. After that, it all went down the drain for Les Bleus. Zizou went from hero to zero by getting dismissed for heafbutting the Azzurri goal scorer after a tiff between the both of them. What a sad way to end your career. That black mark will erase his supremely superb performance throughout the final match. The English fans will recall that this is the same referee who sent off Rooney for the ‘stud on balls’ act.
Les Bleus tried to move forward in the last 10 minutes of extra time with 10 man & the Italians are finally moving forward with their newfound 1 man advantage. It appears to be heading for extra time, where all bets & efforts of the last 120 minutes are off, & so it is. Penalty shootout to end World Cup 2006! I seriously have a bad feeling for France now.
It’s over, the Azzurri lifts the trophy! The team wearing blue did win in the end. Trezeguet’s missed penalty cost France the World Cup as none of the other players from both sides missed. I can’t help but wonder whether he was more worried of his position in Juventus when taking the spot kick against Buffon, should his penalty contributed to France winning instead. Despite both teams in the final match are those whom I wanted to be there, I was leaning more toward France as I wanted Zidane’s career to end on a high in Berlin (which instead developed into an ultra low).
The Azzurri played like… well… Italians, :D which was a real let down to me, especially in the 2nd half. Their way of play made the match absorbing but short of a great match. What happened to the Azzurri that broke the host's heart last Tuesday? My friend Ady, a casual observer who got the World Cup fever but never seen an full game in this entire 64 match tournament finals, argued that it was an effective tactic & hence, the right 1. The end justified the means. Bleh! On the basis of this match alone, the Azzurri didn’t deserve to win the World Cup, but on their overall performance, I applaud them for a job well done. Les Bleus on the other hand, just managed to squeeze through the group stage & only found their form against the Spaniards & the disappointing Brazilians. So overall, perhaps 2nd best is just right for Zizou & co.
Still can’t help feeling sad for Zizou. Adieu, maître.
Till later, live long & prosper.