AP PHOTOS: Italy’s agony and ecstasy at the World Cup

Through four World Cup victories and one runner-up finish, Italy has been through agony and ecstasy on world soccer’s biggest stage.

Until this time, Italy had qualified for every World Cup since 1958. The country’s team won the title in 1934, ’38, ’82 and 2006.

In 1982, the Azzurri beat West Germany 3-1 in Madrid with goals from Paolo Rossi – who finished as the tournament’s top scorer – Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli.

Italy reached the final again in 1994 but lost to Brazil 3-2 on penalties after the match had ended goalless. Roberto Baggio missed the decisive penalty.

There was controversy in 2002 when Italy lost to South Korea 2-1 in extra time. Fans blamed Ecuadorean referee Byron Moreno, who made a number of debatable decisions during the last 16 match, including sending off Francesco Totti in extra time following a second booking for diving.

Italy bounced back from that disappointment to win the World Cup four years later, after a final which is mainly remembered for France great Zinedine Zidane being sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi.

Both players had scored in the first half, with Materazzi’s header equalizing after Zidane’s early penalty.

Italy won the penalty shootout 5-3 with David Trezeguet the only player who failed to convert his spot kick.

The national team has struggled at the World Cup since. Italy was eliminated in the group stage at both the 2010 and 2014 tournaments. In 2018, the team won’t even get a chance.

Source: Fox Sports

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