The final game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup was decided in penalty kicks but it had enough drama to make it worth watching all of it. Italy prevailed in what proved to be a 120 minute nail biter with two goals scored in regulation time and a multitude of lost chances for both sides.
This game also marked the very last one for France’s Zinadine Zidane, indisputably one of the game’s greatest players. In fact, it was Zidane who opened the score in the 6th minute with a perfectly executed penalty kick only he could master with such comfort.
The Azzurri did not give up and scored the equalizer just 13 minutes later when Materazzi literally flew over the French defense to win a decisive header and knock the ball into the net.
In the second half, a very determined French side took control but could not get the go ahead goal. Herny displayed his ball handling skills when he dribbled past 3 defenders only to shoot the ball on the outside of Bartez’s net. Italy eventually balanced the game and came close to taking the lead on a Toni header that hit the crossbar. Since neither team was able to beat the two goalkeepers, the game went to extra time.
Extra time had two moments that football fans will remember for a long time. First, in the 104th minute, Zidane’s powerful header was knocked out of the park by a flying Buffon robbing the megastar of the chance to win this match for France. No more than 7 minutes later, Zidane walked off the field and into the dressing room after seeing the red card for hitting Materazzi off the ball. This was definitely not the way that neither Zidane nor his fans wanted him to end his career but the sold out crowd in Berlin’s Olympiastadion cheered him on as he walked off the field.
The Italian team was not able to capitalize on the one man advantage for the remaining of the game and so the final was decided on penalty kicks. The Azzurri scored in all 5 of their chances while Trezeguet’s kick hitting the crossbar sealed the victory for Lippi’s team. So, Italy won its fourth world cup title, 24 years after last winning it in Spain.