World Cup 2006 Review – Semi Finals & Final
The World Cup is over for another four years and it was Italy, rather than hosts Germany or a rejuvenated France, that were crowned World champions. Here is a short round up of the semi final, third and fourth place play off and the final itself to complete BetBonus.co.uk’s comprehensive coverage of the greatest tournament in the world.
Germany vs Italy was arguably the best match of the tournament. Both are traditionally defensive sides but this year have shown attacking prowess like never before. The match was goalless at 90 minutes, proving the cautious bookmaker’s called the draw correctly at meagre 2/1 odds but the match was not without incident. Alberto Gilardino’s effort rebounded off the post and Gianluca Zambrotta’s drive struck the bar. Lukas Podolski led the German attacking threat, missing the header from David Odonkor’s cross and forcing a brilliant one handed save from Gianluigi Buffon.
The match was heading for penalties until two goals in the final two minutes of the game stunned the hosts. Impressive left back Fabio Gross hit an unstoppable first time shot and a minute later substitute Alessandro Del Piero collected a pass and struck firmly into the top corner beyond the advancing Jens Lehmann to send the Italians into the final.
France, at odds of 5/4 eased themselves into the final after beating a disappointing Portugal side 1-0. Zinedine Zidane struck a decisive penalty after 33 minutes after Thierry Henry was tripped inside the box by Ricardo Carvalho.
Third / Fourth Place Play Off
Germany finished the tournament in third place, comfortably beating Portugal 3-1 and ensuring they were one of the safest bets of the tournament at odds of 3/4. After a goalless first half Bastian Schweinsteiger stuck a long range effort after 55 minutes and Armando Petit deflected in another Schweinsteiger effort from distance, this time a low free kick. The Bayern Munich midfielder fired in another long range goal 13 minutes from time to seal victory for the hosts but Oliver Kahn, winning his eighty sixth and final Germany cap, was denied a clean sheet as Nuno Gomes headed in a consolation two minutes from time.
Italy were crowned World Champions after a faultless penalty shoot out display but the match will be best remembered for Zinedine Zidane getting himself sent off in his last appearance for France. Zidane put France ahead after seven minutes from the penalty spot and became only the fourth player to score three goals in World Cup final matches, joining Geoff Hurst of England and both Vava and Pele of Brazil in this exclusive club. His goal also ended Italy’s clean sheet streak of four matches, one short of the World Cup best set by the Italian side of 1990. France struggled to cope with Italy’s set pieces and Marco Materazzi headed in from Andrea Pirlo’s corner to draw level after 19 minutes.
With the match level at 1-1 after 90 minutes at even skinner draw odds of 9/5 how ironic that the two goalscorers would be embroiled in controversy with the match heading for a penalty shoot out. After 109 minutes, Zidane was sent off for head butting Materazzi after the former Everton defender seemingly said something to offend the veteran Frenchman.
No further goals were scored and five weeks of action would be determined on penalties, but it was the Italians who would vanquish the demons of 1994 and emerge victorious. Andrea Pirlo scored for Italy and Sylvain Wiltord drew the French level. Marco Materazzi scored but substitute David Trezeguet cannoned his effort off the crossbar. Daniele De Rossi put Italy 3-1 ahead but Eric Abidal scored to make it 3-2. Alesanndro Del Piero scored and so did Willy Sagnol. With the score at 4-3 in Italy’s favour, Fabio Grosso could win the Cup with a successful spot kick. He duly obliged and Italy won the match and indeed the World Cup, 5-3 on penalties.