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Penalty Kicks Make Italy’s Day

From Associated Press

Italy beat the Netherlands, 3-1, on penalty kicks after a scoreless tie Thursday and will play France in the European Championship soccer final.

The Dutch missed a total of five penalties during the match--two during regulation and three in the shootout. Frank de Boer was guilty twice, in the 38th minute and again in the tiebreaker as goalkeeper Francesco Toldo stopped both tries.

Italy advanced to the European final for the first time since 1968, despite playing a man short the last 86 minutes because Gianluca Zambrotta was ejected.

Luigi Di Biagio--whose missed penalty against France in the 1998 World Cup quarterfinals eliminated Italy--Gianluca Pessotto and Francesco Totti hit their kicks, while captain Paolo Maldini missed.

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Italy’s run at each of the past three World Cups ended on penalties, including in the 1994 final. The Dutch have been eliminated in the past three European Championships on penalties.

Police with horses and dogs charged crowds in Amsterdam and the Hague when fans threw objects at officers after the game.

Patrick Kluivert was the only Dutchman to score in Thursday’s shootout. Kluivert missed a penalty in the 62nd minute of play, hitting the post.

In addition to De Boer’s miss, Paul Bosvelt saw his spot kick saved, while defender Jaap Stam sent his penalty over the bar.

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“In the first half we had them on the ropes. And then I miss a penalty,” De Boer said. “Later we just didn’t have the patience.”

“We missed five penalties. It’s very sad. We cannot finish our job. We had a great chance to win the championship and we only have ourselves to blame.”

Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard resigned after the match.

“I don’t know why Holland can’t win in a penalty shootout,” striker Dennis Bergkamp, who retired from the national team, said. “It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. It’s so stupid. We have only to blame ourselves.”

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In the 38th minute, the Dutch were awarded the match’s first penalty when Kluivert had his shirt pulled by Italian defender Alessandro Nesta.

But Toldo guessed correctly, diving to his left to block de Boer’s effort.

Dutch keeper Edwin Van de Sar made his first save of the game in the third minute of the second half and didn’t even need to. Stefano Fiore’s shot was sailing wide but Van der Sar jumped to his right to palm the ball away anyway.


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