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Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
Euro woe for proud Italy
Desailly and Delvecchio
Desailly and France outlasted Delvecchio and Italy
To lose the final of a major competition is difficult to bear, to lose one you were only 30 seconds away from winning is cruel beyond description.

With the game in the fourth minute of added time and a goal to the good, Italian coach Dino Zoff could have been forgiven for thinking the Euro 2000 title was in the bag.

But Slyvain Wiltord, David Trezeguet and their French team-mates had other ideas, and now it is France and not Italy that is celebrating.

"This is one of the worst nights of my life," said Zoff.


Paolo Maldini
Maldini: Distraught
"It can happen at any time but it happened tonight. It was a defeat.

"You are sure of victory and it runs away in the last minute. This is very serious."

Trying to salvage something positive from the heartbreak in Holland, Zoff praised his unfancied team for restoring some pride to the Italian game.

"It was a great thing that the Italians can put up a fight against anybody," he said.

"We have shown that once again beyond all considerations.



This is one of the worst nights of my life

Dino Zoff
"In the semi-finals we played with one man less and that was a very good match."

Del Piero despair

Zoff also refused to blame Alessandro Del Piero for the loss. The Juventus star missed two great chances to seal the win.

"He did well up front and I cannot blame him. I'm really sorry, but this is soccer," he said.

After being so close to the ultimate triumph, the Italian players were understandably distraught.

Goalkeeper Francesco Toldo told reporters it was the first time he had ever cried after a game, and Del Piero said he felt guilty about the defeat.


Francesco Toldo
A crestfallen Toldo
Midfielder Stefano Fiore said: "Until 20 seconds from the end we were the champs, now we're no longer so.

"Twenty seconds from the end we were in good shape. After the equaliser, they had more energy."

Gianluca Pessotto, who set up Marco Delvecchio's 56th minute opening goal, said: "Maybe this was the best game we played in the whole tournament, and it's the only one we lost. It's unexplainable."

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See also:

02 Jul 00 | Euro2000
France win Euro 2000
02 Jul 00 | Photo Gallery
Euro 2000 final in pictures
02 Jul 00 | Euro2000
Euro 2000 final clockwatch
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