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Italy Jubilant After Fourth World Cup Title

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

There was a little something for everybody yesterday in the championship game of the World Cup soccer tournament. Regulation play ended, then came overtime, penalty kicks, and a head butt. After two hours of play, the game was tied one to one. In the end, Italy defeated France, five penalty kicks to three, in what's known as a shootout. The host country, Germany, finished in third place.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Now, the win for Italy was its first in 24 years, and it came amid a match- fixing scandal that has rocked Italian soccer and tarnished the reputation of several teams and players. NPR's Rob Gifford reports from Rome.

ROB GIFFORD: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

GIFFORD: (Unintelligible) huge screen within the shadow of the Coliseum, thousands gathered last night to see their 21st century gladiators do battle with the French. Local fan, Diego Fabri(ph), said Italian confidence had grown.

DIEGO FABRI: It's just like, just like, you know, you have to run for 50 miles - you run 49 miles, just one mile left, man. You know, you can't give up now.

GIFFORD: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

GIFFORD: It came 12 minutes later with a fantastic header from Marco Materazzi. One goal each. France dominated much of the rest of the play, but couldn't find a winner. The game went into overtime. Still, no winner, and so to the dreaded penalty shootout.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

GIFFORD: The game-fixing inquiry will still go ahead this week and there may still be punishments for some big Italian clubs. But for local fans like Renzo Renconi(ph), a time to forget all that and begin a night of celebration.

RENZO RENCONI: (Unintelligible) great success. I thought that the team was not very strong, but I'm really surprised and I'm very happy to be surprised.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHANTING)

INSKEEP: Reporting from NPR's Rob Gifford in Rome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Rob Gifford
Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.