Italy booked a ticket to their sixth World Cup final with a dramatic 2-0 extra-time win over Germany in 2006.
An engrossing first 90 minutes saw chances – and plenty of fouls – go either way, with Luca Toni almost getting on the end of a great cross from Fabio Grosso, while Bernd Schneider was unable to convert after a smart lay-off from Miroslav Klose.
In extra time, things got a bit silly, with Alberto Gilardino and Gianluca Zambrotta hitting the woodwork, and the best chance going to a young Lukas Podolski, who was guilty of wasting a fantastic ball from David Odonkor.
When Andrea Pirlo’s disguised pass found Grosso in the 119th minute, he silenced the Signal Iduna Park with an ingenious curling effort that should not be possible after two hours of football.
Alessandro Del Piero was the coolest man in Dortmund after Grosso’s opener, taking advantage of Vincenzo Iaquinta’s resourcefulness and some tired legs to say ciao to the Germans with a delicious chip.
Key Talking Point
After the heartbreak of 2002 and the downright disappointment of Euro 2004, it was down to Jürgen Klinsmann to show that his side were more than just a host nation punching above their weight.
In a transitional period where legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was being phased out for Jens Lehmann before the age of Manuel Neuer, Germany only just navigated a tempestuous quarter-final against Argentina on penalties.
Their lack of established players compared to Italy, with Bastian Schweinsteiger dropped to the bench for tactical reasons, was the difference on the evening, with the Italians able to summon Gilardino, Iaquinta and Del Piero from the bench to settle the tie.
Germany Player Ratings
Starting XI: Lehmann (5), Friedrich (6), Mertesacker (5), Metzelder (6), Lahm (6); Schneider (5), Ballack (5), Kehl (6), Borowski (6); Klose (7), Podolski (7).
Substitutes: Schweinsteiger (5), Odonkor (6), Neuville (6).
We might have been talking about a completely different result if Poldi had managed to convert after brilliantly spinning past Marco Materazzi, and his sitter in extra time shouldn’t overshadow an energetic performance in the biggest game of his life.
There were better days in store for the forward, however, and he got his closure (and the chance to chill with Rihanna) in 2014, as part of the Germany squad which beat Argentina in the final.
Key Talking Point
Just weeks before Italy’s World Cup campaign was due to kick off, the biggest scandal in Italian club football history was rather inconveniently brought to light.
With many Italian players uncertain of their futures at club level after the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal which saw Juventus relegated from Serie A came to light, the question was whether Italy would feel the psychological strain or rally around one another.
A tense victory over minnows Australia in the round of 16 that was far from bellissimo suggested the former, but the togetherness in the side shone through in Dortmund as they were practically finishing each other’s sentences by extra time.
Italy Player Ratings
Starting XI: Buffon (7), Zambrotta (6), Cannavaro (7), Materazzi (6), Grosso (8); Camoranesi (6), Pirlo (8), Gattuso (7), Perrotta (6); Totti (6), Toni (6).
Substitutes: Gilardino (7), Iaquinta (8), Del Piero (8).
After bombing up and down the wing for the best part of 120 minutes, how do you pull off THAT finish?
Grosso was every inch the modern, dynamic full back in this game, sealing his reputation by refusing to give Arne Friedrich a minute’s rest.
Grosso then wrote his name into national folklore by scoring the winning penalty in the final against France – leave some big moments for the rest of us, mate!
Things That Aged the Worst
Golden and silver goal. Those rules absolutely sucked.
2006’s World Cup was the first major international tournament since the early 90s not to apply either of these newfangled rules, and the result was an engaging contest as both sides fearlessly went at each other in extra time rather than worrying about what might happen if they conceded on the break.
We’ll take Grosso’s buccaneering runs over some of Euro 2004’s snoozefests any day.
Things That Aged the Best
It couldn’t really be anyone other than Andrea Pirlo, who was approaching his late 20s during this tournament but would continue to set the tone in the Italian midfield until 2016.
The game was a bit of a mixed bag for the maestro, who was caught in possession more than once, but he had the last laugh with that perfectly-weighted ball to Grosso, and was generally tidy from set-pieces.
Continuing to shine for another decade on the world stage like he did, humiliating England – and Joe Hart – in the process not once but twice, just shouldn’t be allowed.
Players You Completely Forgot Existed
Christoph Metzelder had a fantastic tournament but was hampered by injuries afterwards, and is up there with Benedikt Höwedes and Holger Badstuber in the pantheon of solid German centre backs who you’ll always forget about in a pub quiz.
He went on to become part of quite a funky era of Real Madrid squads where Wesley Sneijder was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Roberto Soldado.
Simone Perrotta had a decent game before being substituted in extra time, and will be remembered fondly by Roma fans for his 326 appearances.
It could have all been so different for Perrotta, who has a statue dedicated to his tournament victory in his birthplace of Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester.
What Happened Next
The rest, as they say, is history for Italy, who became four-time World Cup winners thanks to a penalty shoot-out and one very angry Real Madrid manager.
Germany picked themselves up to win the third place play-off against Portugal and their exit may well have been the kick up the backside required, with a golden generation set to burst through in the 2009 UEFA Under-21 Championship.
Why was the wunderkind Lukas Podolski subsequently so disappointing at Bayern Munich? He had a perfectly fine career but never really kicked on from some promising early seasons.
How did Italy do so badly in 2010? With the depth at their disposal a dynasty seemed inevitable.
Your guess is as good as mine.