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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
Fans soak up amazing finale
By Mandeep Sanghera
BBC Sport in Berlin

If there was one moment that sparked the crowd at the World Cup final in Berlin into life it was Zinedine Zidane's red card.

When the French captain was sent off against Italy the Olympiastadion erupted into a chorus of disapproving whistles.

The crowd at the World Cup voiced their feeling in sheer volume and it brought an extra edge to the atmosphere.

Italy fans celebrate at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin
Italy fans wear their tricolours with pride at the Olympiastadion

Zidane trudged down the stairs and back to the dressing room for an offence which left referee Horacio Elizondo with little choice but to send him off.

He had head-butted Marco Materazzi in the chest but most of the crowd had not seen his misdemeanour.

The French contingent vented their anger at Materazzi and Gianluigi Buffon.

Materazzi stood accused because it was felt he was guilty of simulation while Buffon ran over to the linesman to report Zidane's foul play.

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Afterwards, both were jeered whenever they touched the ball while the Italian contingent were more celebratory about the incident.

The crowd's reaction was the most vociferous they had been in the 110 minutes beforehand but the penalty shoot-out saw their emotions hit new heights.

There were customary whistles as players stepped up to the spot and roars for all but David Trezeguet when they scored.

Instead, Trezeguet's miss for France brought cheers from the Azzurri and they turned up the decibel level after Fabio Gross's winning spot-kick.

It was a dramatic end to a game which had engrossed the crowd and was treated as a celebration of football by Fifa and fans.

A handful of supporters from both camps had sat in their seats almost as soon as they were let in through the turnstiles.

They started to soak up the atmosphere of an almost empty Berlin stadium before taking in the array of sights and sounds around the ground.

In preparation for the game, fans from different nations laid their flags and banners where they could, decorating the stadium in their own way.

Colombian singer Shakira sings before the World Cup final
Singer Shakira got the crowd going before the football kicked off

Popstar Shakira sang her hits and shook her famous hips to add the glitz and the atmosphere was nicely brought to the boil as the teams strode out.

There was no lack of fervour during the national anthems but it quickly went quiet as play was interrupted by two fouls in the early minutes.

Zidane's penalty had the French celebrating before there was a brief hush as they sat stunned because of the audacity of the man's chipped effort.

The singing and noise from the stands was sporadic and there was not the wall of sound similar to the game between Germany and Poland.

But that was because most of the crowd were immersed in the match.

There was another spell of celebration when Materazzi equalised and even the chant of Deutschland from the host nation contingent.

An element of the crowd seemed to be disgruntled during extra-time but that did not last long after Zidane's crazy rush of the blood.

A firework display illuminated the night sky after Italy's win and most of the French fans stayed to see the spectacular show.

But then they departed to let the Italians continue the party.

SEE ALSO
Zidane off as Italy win World Cup
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
Zidane's red mist
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
BBC pundits on World Cup final
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
Triumph from despair
09 Jul 06 |  Italy
World Cup final photos
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006


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