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On Sunday night it was the petulant and ineffective Maradona who took the field, and that was sad, because, as he said last week, "This is my last game for Argentina." In true form he couldn't help adding, "And many years will pass before Argentina plays in another World Cup final. My captain's armband is now available." ( Maradona is 29 and has three more years left on his contract with the first-division club in Naples. After that, there's no telling what he will do. He may even move to Japan, where, reportedly, Hei Arita, the president of an educational-supplies distribution company called PJM Japan, has offered him two billion yen—$13 million—to play for his company team, even though there won't be a Japanese league until 1992.)
Before game time all of Italy was hoping for Maradona's humiliation, even fans in Naples, whose team he had taken to two Italian championships and the UEFA Cup. After his penalty kick beat Italy in the semis, he said, "I hate to enjoy the sadness of my friends. I don't want to be an enemy." Nevertheless, that night some fans stoned his house in Naples.
Except for that outburst, Italy seemed stunned into silence at the shock of being eliminated from the World Cup it was so confident of winning. For two of the players involved in the penalty shootout that decided the game it was a personal tragedy. Midfielder Roberto Donadoni, who had played so well in the series until he missed his penalty shot, was distraught. "I am sorry to have let so many people down," he said. Striker Aldo Serena, who flubbed his penalty shot after Donadoni's miss, said, "I wear the sadness of 20 million people on my back." It was a sickening way to go out, and all of Italy seemed to lay the blame on Maradona.
On Wednesday night in Turin, when the same penalty-shot fate befell England in its semifinal loss to West Germany, you couldn't find a lover of the game anywhere in Italy who would not condemn FIFA, the sport's international governing body, for its get-a-result-and-get-it-fast policy of using penalty kicks to decide important games. England manager Bobby Robson bitterly called it "Russian roulette." But it was the players who best conveyed the injustice of the shootout. Peter Shilton, England's goalie, eyes puffy from crying, said, "This was a bigger joke than the one that Maradona put over on us in Mexico City, only this time we had nobody to get mad at." After the defeat, midfielder Paul Gascoigne was so overcome by emotion that he wandered, crying, onto the West German bus by mistake.
And so it was on Saturday in Bari that England and Italy played out the anticlimactic game for third place. Italy won 2-1 as striker Salvatore Schillaci, who had captured the hearts of his countrymen with his brilliant play, became the tournament's top scorer when he converted—what else?—a penalty kick.
The real game, though, would come on Sunday, and as 30,000 Germans marched into Rome to watch it, many chanted insultingly, "Scheisse Maradona! Maradona Scheisse!" As play began, however, it became clear that Maradona was not going to be much of a threat. Argentina got consistently bogged down at midfield and played as if hoping for a penalty-kick shootout. In the end, the Argentines made only one shot on goal, while the West Germans took 16.
Few of the West Germans' shots looked very dangerous, except for a near miss by Brehme from 30 yards out. Overtime, even another unspeakable penalty-kick shootout, looked possible. Then began what would become a chapter of shame in Argentine soccer history. Until Sunday night, no player had ever been expelled from a World Cup final. But in the 65th minute, Pedro Monzon, who had already been suspended once earlier in the tournament, viciously chopped down Klinsmann. It was a straight-up red card, and Monzon was ejected.
In the 84th minute, V�ller was brought down in the penalty area by Roberto Sensini. A penalty? Of course. After all, this was the World Cup of the penalty kick. Brehme rocketed the ball to goalie Sergio Goycochea's right, just inside the post. It was the only goal but not the last of the drama.
Yet another Argentine would be sent off when, three minutes before the end, striker Gustavo Dezotti got a second yellow for half-choking J�rgen Kohler. And Maradona, to crown an entirely lackluster evening, got a yellow card himself for arguing the call.
Or maybe that wasn't quite his crowning event. Maradona's last touch of a ball in a World Cup match was literally that. With only moments left in the game, he knocked down a pass with his arm and was whistled for a hand ball.