Work in Sports
French deux it
World champs top Italy for Euro 2000 crown
Posted: Saturday July 08, 2000 06:08 PM
PARIS (CNNSI.com) -- David Trezeguet is the new goal-den boy of French football as he left Italy feeling bleu with a truly "golden goal" to win Euro 2000.
Trezeguet volleyed home a Robert Pires cross to seal a 2-1 win for the 1998 World Cup winners, who are now also kings of Europe.
It was tough on the Azzurri, who were seconds away from victory in normal time thanks to Marco Delvecchio's goal until Sylvain Wiltord equalized with virtually the last kick of a thrilling final.
The final rolled back memories to the good times earlier in the tournament as France and Italy put on a show for 50,000 people in Rotterdam. It was supposed to be French flair trying to break down tough Italian defense. Although it wound up that way, it didn't start out as expected.
"Everybody thought we were dead," said Thierry Henry. "With the French team, it is never over.
"I was pretty annoyed the Italians were already thinking of victory. They were clapping hands and high-fiving. It was bothering me so I was really happy when the ball went in."
"It's historic; we did a double," Deschamps said after collecting another trophy.
"It is the willpower of the team that did it," said French coach Roger Lemerre. "The team wanted this trophy since the day it won the World Cup.
"We said that, if there was a second left, we had to go all out for it. The miracle happened and we caused it."
Italian coach Dino Zoff, who appeared on course to become the first to add the Euro title as a coach as well as a player (in 1968), remained proud of his players.
"We proved Italian soccer can battle against anyone," said Zoff, who has endured months of criticism from the Italian media.
"When you feel victory is in your hands and it slips away it takes a lot out of your spirit. But it was a great effort.
"I'm really sorry, but this is soccer."
The poor semifinals were forgotten as both teams were intent on attack from the word go... and attack they did, even though it was 0-0 at the break.
Although there were many thousands of blue-shirted French and Italian fans at either end to cheer on the two finalists, there were chants of "Holland, Holland" from the orange-shirted Dutchman in the crowd, who were still upset that their own team didn't make it to the final.
The game really started as a Dutch treat as it got off to a blistering start as France went straight on the attack, and the pace of Thierry Henry ripped the Italian defense apart after just 40 seconds.
But the final ball was poor, allowing Italy to launch their own raid as Marco Delvecchio forced Fabien Barthez to sprint from his goal to clear the danger.
Both sides were gunning for glory, and Henry was a coat of paint away from a goal as he saw a shot beat Francesco Toldo but smack against the post and away to safety.
The pace of the match was relentless, and Francesco Totti maybe should have done better with a free header from Stefano Fiore's corner, but he failed to make proper contact and the ball drifted wide.
Didier Deschamps sent a 30-yard shot inches over as France hit on the counter attack after 20 minutes and a minute later a scramble in the Italian defense almost led to a goal for Marcel Desailly but the ball rolled wide.
The renowned Italian defense was creaky at times, mainly because of the problems caused by Henry's pace, and they were fortunate on 39 minutes when Henry played the ball through to Youri Djorkaeff who shot on the turn.
However, the shot lacked power, and Toldo made a routine save.
The second-half carried on from where the first finished, with France taking the advantage, but Italy resolutely looking defend and break on the counter attack.
But it was a French quick raid that almost led to the opening goal four minutes after the restart, as Henry burst down the left and crossed but Zinedine Zidane couldn't connect in front of goal.
The Italians decided to send their talismanic lethal weapon Alessandro Del Piero into the action after 53 minutes as he came from the substitutes' bench to replace Fiore.
And it only took two minutes for Italy to blast into the lead.
Del Piero wasn't involved in the goal -- but what a goal it was.
Totti's delectable back-heel found Gianluca Pessotto on the right, and his super cross was blasted home by Delvecchio from six-yards.
It sent the Italian fans wild -- and shocked the French, who hadn't expected to concede a goal.
And it nearly got worse for them on 59 minutes, when Totti sent Del Piero clear, but the world's highest-paid player screwed his shot wide.
France was visibly stunned by the goal, and Sylvain Wiltord, who replaced Christophe Dugarry straight after Delvecchio's strike, saw a shot well saved by the legs of Toldo on 62 minutes while Henry was still a quicksilver threat to the Italian defense.
They were stretched after 68 minutes when Toldo again came to the rescue as Henry showed all his skills to shoot on sight -- but he was stunned to see Toldo block the ball.
Toldo was having a starring role in the game and his teammate Totti was equally effective.
His work rate was second to none and some of his touches were exquisite as he stretched the French at will.
And he once again put Del Piero in the clear, but he blew his chance to wrap the game up six minutes from time.
Delvecchio was substituted five minutes from time as Italy looked to shore up its defense, and he left the field to a standing ovation from every Italian in the ground.
Italy, and Del Piero in particular, paid for their profligacy when Wiltord dramatically leveled to send the final into the extra period.
And after five minutes of the "golden goal" period, Italy nearly lost the game as Pires speared a shot towards goal and was only denied by another fine stop from Toldo.
The French were looking to win the game rather than enter the lottery of penalties and Zidane was only just off target with a 25-yard free-kick.
But there was joy just around the corner for France and gut-wrenching heartbreak for Italy as Pires danced down the left in the 103rd minute and crossed into the danger zone.
Trezeguet was ready and waiting and stunningly finished into the top of the net with one touch to shatter the Italians.
The suspended Gianluca Zambrotta, who received a red card in the semifinal against the Dutch, was replaced in the lineup by the defensive-minded Pessotto.
French midfielder Emmanuel Petit started on the bench after coming down with a bout of the flu early in the weekend. Djorkaeff and Dugarry, who were benched for the semifinal against Portugal, both made a return for the final. Nicolas Anelka was also left on the bench.
France: Fabien Barthez; Lilian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu (86, Robert Pires), Patrick Vieira, Laurent Blanc; Youri Djorkaeff (76, David Trezeguet), Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Christophe Dugarry (58, Sylvain Wiltord).
Italy: Francesco Toldo, Paolo Maldini, Demetri Albertini, Fabio Canavaro, Gianluca Pessotto, Alessandro Nesta, Luigi Di Biagio (66, Massimo Ambrosini), Mark Iuliano, Stefano Fiore (53, Alessandro Del Piero), Francesco Totti, Marco Delvecchio (86, Vincenzo Montella).
Referee: Anders Frisk, Sweden.