Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Italy, Finally

From the afternoon fireworks on the field in Dortmund, Germany, a few thousand miles away, to the spectacular nighttime ones that lit up the dark and humid skies over downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, the Fourth of July was an explosively exciting day indeed.

When the thrilling Italy vs. Germany World Cup semi-final went into overtime, we bit our lips and crossed our fingers, knowing all too well that a tight game can literally be kicked out from under you, as it was on Saturday when England lost to Portugal in a heartbreaking shoot-out. Neither England nor Portugal had scored a goal after an entire match, plus two fifteen-minute overtime periods, and the teams had to face off in a dreaded roulette-like finale that ultimately left Britons drained and depressed. A weeping Beckham would resign from his post as captain the following day.

We didn't want to see another shoot-out like that. So when yesterday's first overtime period began, we held our breath and willed the Forza Azzuri to get that bloody ball into the net. And I think we might have shouted, too. Just a little.

Fabio Grosso heard us just in time, scoring a spectacular and twisty goal thanks to a clever assist by teammate Andrea Pirlo. At the 119 minute mark. Then Alessandro Del Piero scored again, as if to show the world that this was no fluke, that Italy was the champion team here.

Point final.

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