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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trezeguet Strike Sinks Italians in Extra Time




ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- Substitute David Trezeguet blasted France to the European title Sunday when his 10 meter left-foot drive 13 minutes into extra time gave his side a dramatic 2-1 golden-goal victory over Italy.


Italy, shaking off its defensive shackles, had looked set for victory as it led 1-0 three minutes into injury time only for substitute striker Sylvain Wiltord to cut in from the left to fire home a shock equalizer for the world champion.


Marco Delvecchio had put Italy deservedly ahead in the 56th minute when he volleyed in a Gianluca Pessotto cross after a clever backheel by Francesco Totti had opened up the French defense.


France had barely threatened in 90 minutes of normal time, but Wiltord's goal gave theside and the French fans a huge lift.


The winner came when Robert Pires, another substitute, got past an injured Fabio Cannavaro 10 minutes into extra time and drove a low cross to Trezeguet, who was waiting to gleefully hammer it home.


It was heartbreak for Italy, especially as Alessandro Del Piero, another substitute, had wasted two good second-half chances to make the game safe.


France became the first world champion to add the European crown to the trophy cupboard.


Italian coach Dino Zoff said: "The French were stronger tonight. I feel very bad. We had a lot of opportunities to score, and you can't say we didn't put up a fight."


Italy, expected to sit deep and defend, instead took the early initiative and should have gone ahead in the fourth minute when Totti was left unmarked at a corner, but he managed to head wide.


Delvecchio, who earned his surprise place in the starting lineup with a battling display as a substitute against the Netherlands, was then centimeters away from a Stefano Fiore cross.


France had started with Youri Djorkaeff instead of Nicolas Anelka but his role as an advanced midfielder meant the center of the field was too crowded for Zinedine Zidane to find time to create his magic.


Striker Thierry Henry was often left isolated and Italy's only first-half scare came when keeper Francesco Toldo left alone a weak Henry shot only to watch in surprise as it curled in and clipped a post.


France looked more purposeful after the break with Henry getting behind the defense and Zidane finally beginning to have some influence.


But it was the Italians who struck as Desailly failed to cut out Pessotto's cross and Delvecchio gratefully accepted the gift in the 56th minute.


Del Piero, a 53rd minute replacement for Fiore, should have made it 2-0 three minutes later after another great pass from Totti but shot wide with just Fabien Barthez to beat and was later foiled by Barthez again.


France threw on strikers Wiltord, Trezeguet and Pires and it paid off handsomely.


With one minute of stoppage time left, Cannavaro, under pressure, could only head on into the path of Wiltord, who cut in on the left and beat Toldo from 10 meters.


And it was Cannavaro, clearly struggling with an injury, who allowed Pires to fly past him and set up the shock winner.


After the game, Italian players said they deserved to win but had been deserted by the luck that helped them past the Dutch in the last round.


"We were one step away and now we're here in despair," said midfielder Stefano Fiore.


"I think it was our best performance of the tournament. I think we were generally on a par with the French and better than them at some stages of the match.


"Maybe the luck we had against the Dutch turned its back on us," Fiore said.


"But we have nothing to reproach ourselves for. Twenty seconds from the end we were champions of Europe."


"They [France] did very little tonight, and we had two or three chances to clinch the match," said defender Alessandro Nesta. "But it was written in destiny. It was written that it would finish like this."


"We expended a lot of energy against the Netherlands. We knew extra time would be difficult, and we conceded a stupid goal."


Goalkeeper Francesco Toldo said he would turn his attention to his marriage next weekend to his girlfriend Manuela.


"I would have liked to give her a good wedding present, but unfortunately I couldn't do it," he said.