Italy 1 France 2 : Euro 2000 was a classic final

Italy were BY FAR the better side in normal time.

But France were superior in extra time when substitute Robert Pires created the golden goal for David Trezeguet after 13 minutes.

The start of the game was lively and open, but Italy soon took charge and made France look second rate.

The Italian teamwork was fantastic in the first half. They covered, tackled and outpassed the World Champions.

Desailly’s vicious and sneaky elbow into Cannavaro’s face, at a corner, was a red card offence if referee Anders Frisk had seen it.

Dugarry was patchy, Djorkaeff peripheral, Vieira anonymous.

Thierry Henry was doing quite well exploiting the space behind the wingback.

The game changed in the 53rd minute when Dino Zoff brought on del Piero for Fiore.

This meant that Totti was now in his favourite midfield role.

Totti has been telling Zoff for months that he is a midfielder, not a striker. And now, at last, he was playing where he could control the game.

Within two minutes Totti’s backheel released Pessotto and his right wing cross was perfect, eluding Desailly. Delvecchio volleyed home neatly.


It was 1-0 after 55 minutes and France did not look capable of turning the game round.

Wiltord came on for Dugarry, Thuram got a yellow card for a foul on Totti, who had outshone Zidane all night. What a player! He is hypnotic, breathtaking, like Gascoigne with Dalglish’s cool. Can’t wait to see him playing with Batistuta next season.

Roma 1 France 0 looked like a result.

Then Totti found del Piero with a lovely pass but he scuffed his left foot shot wide from a reasonably promising angle.Two years ago Golden Boy buried chances like that blindfold.

Wiltord was in on the left and stupidly tried to shoot when he should have crossed. Toldo saved, inevitably.

Nesta was tugging Henry’s shirt again and again, but could not stop him getting in a shot which Toldo saved.

Totti was everywhere. He raced back into a left back position and forced Thuram to run the ball out. He had covered every blade and when Vieira gave the ball away Totti found Delvecchio with a slide-rule pass, but he shot wide from a good position inside the box.

Then Totti blew it with an ambitious freekick which flashed 20 yards wide !

Ambrosini had come on for Di Biaggio and he played del Piero in again-but he missed again.Italy should be 3-0 up by now.

Roger Lemerre then brought on Robert Pires for Lizarazu. His craft and canny passing added a lot to the game and steadied France down.

After 93 minutes Wiltord battered a low shot from a narrow angle which went under Toldo’s left hand for the equaliser.

The big man’s view was partially obscured by Nesta and he could not get down quickly enough.

By now I was thinking: Are France are the new Arsenal? They make you suffer.They make you sweat. They keep doing it the hard way.

Fatigue looked like playing a big part now. Italy had played on Thursday, the day after France. And they had played with 10 men for 89 minutes.

And so it turned out. Italy tired visibly and made mistakes.

Cannavaro gave a sloppy ball to Albertini, who could not control it.The fresh Pires took the ball and cruised past both of them and picked out Trezeguet 12 yards out and he slammed the ball high into the net for the golden goal.

Trezeguet is a box player. His game is getting onto crosses and rebounds.

After 94 minutes he had gone for a ball Toldo spilled after Pires shot, and caught Toldo in the face, giving him a nosebleed. But it was a ball he was entitled to go for.

Bierhoff had scored the golden goal in the 1996 Final and now Trezeguet, another centre forward, had done it in 2000.

All three goals in this match were left foot shots!

And all three of France’s substitutes contributed hugely to winning the game

Clearly, Italy were the better side for 93 minutes.

They baffled and stifled and strangled France with their shrewd teamwork and clever support play.They had three chances to make it 2-0. Del Piero, Delvecchio, Del Piero again.

If the Italians had had a Vieri or a Roberto Baggio to score the second goal they would have coasted home comfortably.They deserve a lot of credit: beautiful losers.

France won Euro 2000 on pride and tenacity and luck, not by superior craft or flair or organisation. A very good final to climax a fabulous tournament.

July 2,  2000.