Monday, July 10, 2006

Italy win World Cup final

One month of dealing with a football-mad City is sadly over - earlier tonight the World Cup football final saw Italy defeat France in a tension-filled match which finished in a penalty shoot-out. After yesterday's big picnic and Dawes Rd pub crawl, we stayed in and watched it at home without any beers and only a cup of tea - a bit sad really.

It was sad to see the French go down, all the more after Italy had previously knocked out Australia in dubious circumstances, but they played a better game and deserved to win this match. Their corners were magnificent (their only goal came from a perfect cross and Materazzi header), and despite being down 1-0 after just 7 minutes thanks to a Zidane penalty spot-kick, they held their nerve and seemed more determined to win it.

Despite starting extra time strongly, the French seemed to lose their way as the second half of extra time began. Key players such as Vieira and my favourite Thierry Henry had gone off, and then the big talking point of the match occurred when French captain Zinedine Zidane, possibly after being verbally baited by the italian player Materazzi, unleashed a headbut into the chest of the italian sending him to the ground. The red card came out and France had lost their captain and key penalty-spot kicker right before the end of extra time and the shoot-out.

The headbutt incident

The Italians weren't going to lose in another shoot out following previous World Cup final failures and consequently nailed their goals straight through or past Barthez. Italy had won 5-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 scoreline at the end of extra time.

Our neighbourhood erupted with car horns blasting and people cheering out of their windows following the win and when they raised gold ball the trophy. Apparently the Italian bars and restuarants in Soho went mad with the win!

I've probably written it before but it has been fantastic to be living here during the tournament, so close to where the games have been played (meaning TV coverage at perfect times of the day), and in a city with such a diverse population following the nations playing every single match. Almost as good as being in Germany.

And after our successes earlier on in the tournament it will be good to see Australia make their way into the tournament in 4 years time, this time in South Africa.

-shane

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