Italy won the World Cup on penalties as Zinedine Zidane ended his wonderful career with a red card for a shameful headbutt.
Fabio Grosso smashed the winning kick past Fabien Barthez as the Azzurri
claimed their first world title since 1982.
It is their first ever win on penalties in the World Cup and heals the scars
of their shoot-off defeat in the 1994 final to Brazil.
France's David Trezeguet was the only player to miss, firing his shot against
the crossbar, and Italy skipper Fabio Cannavaro then lifted the World Cup to
celebrate his 100th cap for his country.
It was a wonderful moment to mark a brilliant tournament by Juventus skipper
But the final will be remembered for many years for Zidane's moment of madness
on his last game before retirement.
He charged at Italy defender Marco Materazzi and butted him in the chest in
the second period of extra-time.
Horacio Elizondo, who sent off Wayne Rooney the quarter-final, reached for the
red card after consulting with a linesman. Zidane made his way slowly down the
tunnel in tears.
He will not be back as he always planned to retire from football after the
Sadly the enduring image of one of the greatest footballers of his generation
will be of him ramming his bald head into Materazzi.
The Italian defender fell to the floor and his team-mates reacted furiously.
Both players had been involved in a tussle and Zidane's temper seemed to snap
after something Materazzi said.
At first, Elizondo seemed to have missed the incident but after talking to his
assistant, he pulled out his red card.
Zidane and Materazzi had been the key actors in the drama all night.
France went ahead through Zidane in the seventh minute when Materazzi was
adjudged to have fouled Florent Malouda as he made a clumsy challenge inside the
The France skipper stepped up and copied Peter Crouch's cheekily chipped
penalty - with one vital difference.
Where Crouch landed his kick in Old Trafford's Stretford End against Jamaica,
Zidane's made it into the goal - just. His dink hit the underside of the bar,
bounced down a yard over the line and spun out.
Argentinian ref Elizondo and his linesman were on the ball and gave the goal.
Zidane jogged away with an arm raised as he joined Pele, Vava and Paul
Breitner as the only players to score in two World Cup finals.
It was a breathless start and Materazzi made amends for conceding the penalty
when he climbed above Patrick Vieira to level the scores.
The former Everton centre-back, in the team because of an injury to Alessandro
Nesta, met Andrea Pirlo's out-swinging corner and headed in his second goal of
Luca Toni then hung in the air and rattled the bar with a header before the
break as France struggled to cope from corner kicks.
Again it was Pirlo's expert delivery which caused the problem and Barthez was
relieved to have the woodwork on his side.
France opened the second-half well.
A typical burst of Thierry Henry's pace and power down the inside left channel
sliced open Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta.
The striker opened up his body for a right-foot shot but struck it tamely,
straight at Gianluigi Buffon.
Zambrotta then hacked clear from Henry in front of goal and the Arsenal
captain dithered over a chance moments later.
France lost Vieira in the 55th minute. He limped off holding his hamstring and
was replaced by Alou Diarra.
Marcello Lippi made two changes on the hour, removing playmaker Francesco
Totti and English-born Simone Perrotta, in a bid to halt the French charge.
Within seconds, Toni found the net with a header from a Pirlo free-kick but
one of his team-mates had drifted offside and it was ruled out.
Pirlo shaved the post with a curling free-kick and Lippi played his final card
in the 86th minute when he sent on Alessandro del Piero.
Just like the Euro 2000 final between the countries, extra-time was needed.
Trezeguet, who scored the golden goal in Rotterdam six years ago, came on but
this time he would be the villain not the hero.
Buffon made a fingertip save to keep out a powerful header from Zidane in
extra-time before the France captain did more damage by sinking his head into
Henry, who was knocked out in a first-minute clash with Cannavaro, limped out
of the final in extra-time.
Italy had trusted in fate all the way to Berlin.
The Azzurri have reached the World Cup final every 12 years since 1970.
And their domestic football is in the midst of a corruption scandal, just as
it was when they last conquered the world, 24 years ago.
In the stadium where Jesse Owens won four gold Olympic gold medals, Italy won
the World Cup for the fourth time.