Last-gasp Italy stun Germany
04 Jul 2006 - 23:10:28
Italy scored twice in the final two minutes of extra-time to clinch an astonishing 2-0 World Cup semi-final victory over hosts Germany in Dortmund.
Four minutes in Francesco Totti rattled in a 35-yard free-kick, with Jens Lehmann making a solid catch from the on-target effort.
With 15 minutes played Fabio Cannavaro made a superb interception to prevent Lukas Podolski from latching onto Miroslav Klose's knock-down.
Just a minute later Simone Perrotta broke the offside trap, but his weak effort was blocked by Lehmann and gathered at the second attempt as the best chance of the game went begging.
Germany had shown some promise without carving out any clear chances and on the half-hour Fabio Grosso powered clear down the left and his near-post cross was met by Luca Toni, but Christoph Metzelder made a superb block.
Four minutes later Podolski and Klose forged an opening and Bernd Schneider had a clear chance to break the deadlock, but his 18-yard drive flew inches over the crossbar.
Germany made a strong start to the second half, with Klose forcing his way past a couple of defenders, but his effort was smothered by Gianluigi Buffon, who rescued his side with a world-class block.
Just past the hour Schneider played in Podolski and he forced a near-post block from Buffon, before Arne Friedrich blazed the rebound high over the crossbar.
Despite the game being an open affair, there proved to be few clear openings from that point on, with extra-time being needed to try and separate the teams.
Italy made a flying start to extra-time, Alberto Gilardino wriggled clear down the right, cut back inside a defender and slid his shot past Lehmann, but against the near post.
Within a minute a corner came out to Zambrotta and he slammed a shot against the crossbar from 20 yards.
Right at the end of the first period of extra-time Podolski headed wide from close in after being left unmarked to meet David Odonkor's cross.
In the second period Podolski almost became the hero, but Buffon made a superb tip-over save from his stinging left-foot drive.
Then, as penalties looked certain, Italy struck two deadly blows. First a corner was only half-cleared and Grosso curled in a superb left-footer from the right side of the area.
As Germany accepted the inevitable, Italy struck again as Gilardino led a quick counter and fed Alessandro Del Piero, who made sure of a place in the final with an excellent finish past Lehmann.
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