After the Italians won a corner for what seemed to be the 30th time, I was urging them to place the ball AWAY from the long reach of Jens Lehmann. What happened next was INCREDIBLE.
2 minutes from penalties, Del Piero took the corner and put it out of the reach of Lehmann. The ball was headed out by a German defender but went right to the feet of Andrea Pirlo at the top of the box. SHOOT IT! We were screaming at the tv but Pirlo instead dribbled parallel to the goal dragging 4 German defenders with him. As everyone including the German defense thought he would shoot, Pirlo calmly and deftly passed the ball to a waiting Fabio Grosso who one-time the ball PERFECTLY.
We watched as the ball curled around the futile outstretched arms of Lehmann and glided around the back of the net.
The reaction was priceless. Grosso's astonishment and celebration was almost an exact carbon copy of the celebration going on in the room (not to mention that it is reminiscent of Marco Tardelli's magnificent goal in '82!). In fact, Simon Evans of Reuters said it best of the Palermo player's reaction:
For the Italians it is the image of the World Cup so far -- the look of utter disbelief on the face of Italy Fabio Grosso when he celebrated his vital goal in the semi-final win over Germany.
The wide-open eyes and yelling mouth as Grosso shook his head, while racing deliriously around the pitch, reflected not just his amazement at a beautifully taken strike.
A minute ago tears had been on the verge of flowing at the very thought of penalty kicks. Now, tears were creeping up at the uninhibited bliss of such an outcome at the very last minute of the game.
After the Germans gave one tremendous push at the goal a minute later, the omnipresent Cannavaro headed the ball to safety, then stole it away from the German midfielder who chested it down. Cannavaro passed on to Totti who saw a running Gilardino. A perfect pass met Gilardino with only one defender to beat. Gila brought him to the top of the '16 where he played with the ball only to catch another running Del Piero come into the box. Gila had a remarkably timed backheel that Del Piero deftly slotted home in the upper right corner.
The game was over. Euphoria ensued. My emotions had run the gamut between extreme sorrow to extreme jubilation. The Italy Germany game became an instant World Cup Classic. A great game by all means and an even greater finish that put the Azzurri thru to the final - and deservedly so.
Italy will face France in the final - trying to exorcise the demons from losses to Les Bleus in WC '98 quarterfinals and the Euro 2000 final. Please win! It would place the perfect exclamation point on an improbable storybook run.