Italy Book Place in Final

German dreams of reaching the World Cup 2006 Final on home soil died in Dortmund as two goals in the final moments of extra time carried Italy into the Final as 2-0 semi-final winners on Tuesday, 4 July 2006.

The Italian team celebrates at the end of the semifinal World Cup soccer match

With a penalty shoot-out looming, Fabio Grosso broke the deadlock in the 119th minute as he curled a left-footed shot past the despairing dive of Jens Lehmann from the right side of the penalty box. Substitute Alessandro Del Piero made sure of Italy's place in the Final when he beat Lehmann from close range in added time at the end of the extra period.

Italy now advance to their first World Cup Final since 1994 and their sixth overall. They will face the winners of Wednesday's Portugal-France semi-final in Berlin's Olympiastadion on Sunday, 24 hours after Germany have contested third place with the losers of that match in Stuttgart.

The match:
5': In a quick-paced, keenly-contested opening to this match, the first effort on goal came from the Italians, with Francesco Totti firing in a 30-yard free-kick that skipped up off the wall and, with Germans hearts in mouths, landed in the arms of a grateful Lehmann.

8': Terrific close control from Miroslav Klose helped create Germany's first chance of the match, with Lukas Podolski picking up the ball from his strike partner and teeing up Michael Ballack for a right-shooted shot that swerved wide of the post.

12':With the atmosphere electric inside the stadium in Dortmund, Germany gave their fans yet more to cheer with a sharp attack that ended with Podolski rifling in a powerful shot well blocked by the ever-reliable Fabio Cannavaro.

34': A glorious opportunity went begging for the hosts after Klose threaded through Bernd Schneider, unmarked and bearing down on goal on the right-hand edge of the box. The in-form midfielder's shot did not lack power but it fizzed over the crossbar, albeit by no more than a few inches. The German fans responded by raising the decibel level yet further.

41': Italy, having weathered a storm of German attacks, began to create some half-chances of their own, the best of which saw Camoranesi head just over from an inviting, outswinging Andrea Pirlo free-kick.

50': The hosts began the second half at a remarkable tempo and Klose, in typically positive fashion, bulldozed his way through the heart of Italy's defence only to be denied by the bravery of Buffon, who dived to save at the striker's feet.

61': Podolski created a chance out of nothing, turning Marco Materazzi inside-out to leave himself with a clear sight of goal. His shot was well-struck, but for the umpteenth time at Germany 2006, Buffon came to Italy's rescue with a superb reflex save. From the rebound, Arne Friedrich blazed over, and another glorious chance had passed the hosts by.

73': Having watched his side dominate the second half, but appear to run out of ideas in the final third, Jurgen Klinsmann reversed the change he made to his starting line-up by bringing off Tim Borowski and putting on the more attack-minded Bastian Schweinsteiger.

82': Michael Ballack wasted a promisingly-positioned free-kick, curling high and wide from the edge of the penalty area after Cannavaro was adjudged to have fouled Podolski. Seconds later, Klinsmann attempted to inject pace into his team’s attacking play by thrusting on David Odonkor in place of Schneider.

85': Perrotta looked to have broken clear of the German defence with a perfectly-timed run, but Lehmann was smartly off his line and confidently fisted the ball to safety.

Extra time:
91': Alberto Gilardino came closer than anyone before to breaking the deadlock. Bursting in from the right, he made his way to the byline before jinking back on to his left foot and squeezing in a shot that beat Lehmann only to come back off the inside of the keeper's left-hand post. Germany breathed again.

92': Less than 60 seconds later, a corner was only half-cleared and Italy rattled the woodwork for the second time in a minute, with Zambrotta smacking in a sweetly-struck 20-yard drive that left the crossbar shuddering on its way over.

105': With the last touch of the first period of extra time, Podolski spurned a glorious opportunity, heading wide substitute Odonkor's cross from a terrific position, unmarked some ten yards from goal.

Italy's Alessandro Del Piero, face to camera, celebrates with teammate Fabio Cannavaro at the end of the semifinal

118': Pirlo drifted in from the right and forced a superb save from Lehmann with a ferocious left-foot shot from 25 yards.

119': The German keeper could only divert the ball round the post, however, and from the resultant corner, Pirlo gathered possession at the edge of the box and teed up Grosso for a superb first-time left-foot shot that curled just inside the far post. (0-1)

120+1': As the hosts pushed desperately for an equaliser, a slick and speedy Italian breakaway ended with Gilardino playing a sublime reverse pass into the path of Del Piero. Opening out his body, the Juventus striker’s finish was nothing short of perfect, with the ball sent arcing into the postage stamp corner. Italy were through.(0-2)

(Sources: FIFA, BBC)

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