Jurgen Klinsmann's World Cup dream was destroyed by two Italy goals at the end of extra-time as Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero struck to secure a place in the final.
Klinsmann's Germany team seemed to be an unstoppable force, heading for
Sunday's showpiece in Berlin.
But, with the semi-final less than two minutes away from a penalty shoot-out,
Grosso fired Italy into the lead in the 119th minute.
Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann, outstanding all tournament, could do nothing to
keep out the curler from the left-back.
A minute later and substitute Del Piero made it two, sending delirious Italy
into their first World Cup final since 1994.
Marcello Lippi's team celebrated on the pitch as the whole of Germany sank to
The World Cup hosts were starting to believe in Klinsmann's team, who had been
dismissed as no-hopers before the competition kicked off.
They had been thrashed by 4-1 by Italy in a friendly on March 1 but this was
always going to be a much tighter contest.
There was a backdrop of ill-feeling to the game because the German camp had
accused Italy of promoting TV evidence that Torsten Frings had thrown a punch in
the fracas which followed their quarter-final win against Argentina.
Frings had indeed thrown a punch and was duly suspended from the semi-final as
Italy were still without Daniele de Rossi, serving the last of his four-match
ban for cutting Brian McBride with an elbow in the group stages.
Tempers simmered in the electric atmosphere of Dortmund's Westfalen Stadion
and the semi-final never seemed far from a flashpoint.
Players from both teams dived and over-reacted to the slightest bit of
Michael Ballack often seemed happy to tap the ball to one side and fall over
the nearest opponent.
It would be nice if he could copy his national team manager Klinsmann and drop
the diving habit when he moves to England.
Italy kicked the ball out for an injured player and Germany refused to give it
back. Twice Italian players refused to shake German hands.
New Chelsea signing Ballack started the game strongly and thought he had a
penalty in the 16th minute.
The Germany skipper nodded the ball past Andrea Pirlo and the AC Milan
midfielder lifted an elbow to block it.
He was inside his own box but Mexican referee Benito Archundia missed the
Italy almost took advantage of Germany's distraction. Francesco Totti split
the defence with a long pass. English-born Simone Perrotta latched onto it but
his touch let him down and Lehmann smothered the chance.
Germany's best chance of the first-half fell to Bernd Schneider, who burst
onto a pass from Miroslav Klose.
Schneider caught his shot sweetly but it rose over the bar, helped by a
fingertip from Gianluigi Buffon.
Twice Fabio Cannavaro denied Lukas Podolski with superb blocks and the German
striker wasted a good chance when he volleyed wildly over from 10 yards.
Klose carved through the Italian defence early in the second half but Buffon
sprinted from his line to make a brave save at his feet.
Podolski then made former Everton defender Marco Materazzi seem rooted to the
spot with a quick turn and shot.
Buffon stood firm at the near post and beat it away. Arne Friedrich raced onto
the rebound and crashed it into the stands.
The hosts had dominated the second half but Totti almost caught them napping
in the 85th minute.
His clever chip found Perrotta but Lehmann sprinted out to punch the danger
clear and take the game into a thrilling 30 minutes of extra-time.
Lehmann was saved by his woodwork when substitute Alberto Gilardino skipped
past Ballack in the area and beat the Arsenal keeper with a miskicked shot.
It struck the foot of the post and rolled across the face of goal.
Gianluca Zambrotta rattled Lehmann's crossbar a minute later with a ferocious
Podolski headed hopelessly wide when unmarked in front of goal and Buffon then
made a flying save to frustrate the Cologne youngster again.
Lehmann turned a screamer from Pirlo round the post but he could do nothing to
keep out Grosso's effort. Pirlo threaded a perfectly-timed ball into the box to
the full-back who bent it first time past the sprawling Lehmann.
Germany piled forward in search of the equaliser but Gilardino slipped a pass
to Del Piero and he scored the second with the last kick of the game.