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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Italian joy at World Cup victory
Circus Maximus in Rome
Italian fans went wild in the Circus Maximus in Rome
Jubilant Italians have taken to the streets of Rome and other cities to celebrate their football team's World Cup victory over France.

Delirious fans frolicked in Rome's Trevi Fountain as fireworks, flares and car horns went off around the capital.

The win on penalties in Berlin has helped ease the pain of Italian soccer's current match-fixing scandal.

There were tears in Paris, particularly for retiring French legend Zinedine Zidane, who was sent off in the final.

This is the greatest moment - it is the first time I've seen Italy win anything
Giovanni
Italian fan

He was shown a red card after headbutting Italian Marco Materazzi, with just 10 minutes left of extra time.

Italy went on to beat France 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out, after a 1-1 draw.

More than 150,000 people had flocked to the Italian capital's Circus Maximus, once the scene of Roman chariot races, to watch the game on giant screens.

The crowd erupted as Fabio Grosso netted the winning spot kick.

"This is the greatest moment - it is the first time I've seen Italy win anything," said one 23-year-old fan, Giovanni, who was not born when Italy won the World Cup last time, in 1982.

Carlo Dilizio said: "I bought an Italian flag in 1982 and I took it out of the drawer the other day to show my son. And I said, let's write 2006 on it and hope."

The BBC's David Willey in Rome said fans were racing through the streets on motorbikes and scooters waving huge flags in celebration as motorists honked their horns.

In the Piazza Venezia, the huge square in Rome's city centre, people were singing and dancing for joy.

The victory, Italy's fourth World Cup win, helped ease the defeat on penalties to Brazil in the1994 final.

But it comes as a sports tribunal is investigating a match-fixing scandal that could see four top teams - Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan and Fiorentina - relegated to the second or third tiers of Italian football.

French fans in Paris
Many French fans walked around Paris in a dazed silence

"Let's hope that the sentences are a bit lighter now," said Giuseppe Del Fiorentino, a Juventus supporter in Lucca.

Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi said: "It was a victory won after a fight until the last drop of blood."

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who was at the game with Jacques Chirac, said the French president was the first to congratulate him.

Mr Chirac said at the time he did not know why Zidane had been sent off but wanted to show "the respect that I have for a man who represents all the most beautiful values of sport... and who has honoured French sport and, simply, France."

In Paris, fans wiped away tears from painted faces and although tens of thousands were on the streets, many milled around in a dazed silence.

Messages projected on to the Arc de Triomphe read "You Remain Our Heroes", "Thank you Les Bleus" and "Zizou (Zidane) We Love You".

Fan Karim Amri said: "What a shame for Zidane. What an awful way to go out."

Another, Metin Akturk, said: "He remains the legend in football for me."


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Jubilant Italians celebrate the World Cup victory



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