The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Azzurri march to Berlin
German captain Michael Ballack is upended by Italian defender Marco Materazzi. (AFP)

Dortmund, July 4: Italy scored minutes before the end of extra time to break a German dream and go into the final of the 2006 World Cup.

Fabio Grosso cracked the deadlock in the 119th minute with a curling shot past the German goalkeeper and Alessandro Del Piero hit the second in a minute as the Germans went into attack. Italy will play in Berlin on Sunday the winner of the France-Portugal match.

Juergen Klinsmannís young team, which started its campaign written off by even the home crowd to eventually whip up a wave of nationalism going into the semi-finals, had their brave hearts shattered by the Italians.

After a pulsating first half, play flagged in the second only to come alive again in extra time as Italy hit the woodwork twice in an up-and-down last half-hour.

Germany had more of the chances at the stadium in Dortmund, where the national team has 13 wins and one draw.

Miroslav Klose, the tournamentís leading scorer with five goals, dribbled through three Italians before falling in the penalty area early in the second half.

Gianluigi Buffon made a two-handed save on Lukas Podolskiís turnaround left-footer from close range, then Arne Friedrich shot over the net. As Italy tired, Germany kept coming.

But the Italians had allowed only an own-goal against the United States in five games, and their technique carried them even when their legs didnít want to.

German captain Michael Ballack put a 19-metre free kick from the middle over and wide in the 82nd, and keeper Jens Lehmann made a punchout save with Simone Perrotta going for Francesco Tottiís pass in the box in the 84th.

Italian defenders seemed to materialise from nowhere to block shots and clear other balls when the Germans pressed the attack. Even in the air, where Germany had a decided height edge, Italy more than held its own.

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro was everywhere in the first half. His sliding clearance of a loose ball in the box in the 15th minute came with three Germans pursuing the ball, and he did it again to Podolski in prime scoring range moments later.

Still, Germany got its opportunities. Podolski shot over the net from 18 metres and Bernd Schneider, alone on the right side from 12 metres, barely put one over the crossbar.

Italyís strategy of lobbing the ball over the huge German defence yielded few threats, but Perrotta broke in on left wing in the 16th.

Lehmann came out to meet him and saved Perrottaís weak shot.

The crowd, which is right on top of the action at the stadium, didnít seem to bother the visitors. It was Mexican referee Benito Archundia who heard the fansí whistles most when he gave Tim Borowski a yellow card for a dangerous tackle in the 40th.

Italy had not lost since 1-0 to Slovenia in October 2004. It had two wins and two draws against Germany in World Cup play.

This is the third straight World Cup the Azzurri played the host country. Italy lost to France in a penalty shootout in 1998, and was eliminated on an extra-time goal in South Korea four years ago.

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