France 2 - 1 Italy (aet, g.g) | Euro 2000, Final | 02.07.00

France produced a stunning comeback to break Italian hearts in a 2-1 final win after extra time on Sunday night. The World Champions ended proceedings a little over ten minutes after the restart through David Trezeguet, becoming the first world champions to win European Championships.

France 2 - 1 Italy (aet, g.g) | Euro 2000, Final |  02.07.00

France produced a stunning comeback to break Italian hearts in a 2-1 final win after extra time on Sunday night. Dino Zoff's Italy were less than a minute away from the countries second European Championship. Marco Delvecchio gave Italy a second-half lead before Sylvain Wiltord sensationally equalised in the final minute of added time. The World Champions ended proceedings a little over ten minutes after the restart through David Trezeguet, in the process, making history by becoming the first world champions to win European Championships.

After a manic couple of minutes, the game quickly settled to a pattern many expected.  However, contrary to pre-match expectations, Italy started the better and applied the early pressure. After stringing together a few passes on Frances's right side, they had the first sight on goal. Stefano Fiore's cross left Manchester United's newly acquired keeper, Fabian Barthez, unsure whether to claim. Delvecchio could have punished his indecision, but the forward was unable to stretch to make good contact on the ball despite his length.

The finals referee, Anders Frisk, was keen to see the contest flow and allowed some fairly robust challenges to go unchecked. Again, this favoured Zoff's side as they continued to scare the World Champions. Other than a flukish Thierry Henry effort, there was virtually no attacking output from the French in the first 15 mins of the game. Demetrio Albertini and Luigi Di Biagio diligently shut down Zidane, who was uncharacteristically anonymous throughout the tie.

Lemerre's men finally got into their stride midway through the first period. Didier Deschamps fired high from range after his team had enjoyed their first period of sustained possession. Minutes later, Christophe Dugarry found a pocket of space between Italy's midfield and backline. The forward produced a beautiful body feint to shift the ball onto his stronger right foot, but Nesta blocked his effort. The French could even have taken the lead in this dominant spell, but Marcel Desailly's header, from a Youri Djorkaeff corner, fell wide of the mark.

The Italians regained their control before the half-hour, continuing to stifle every French incursion into their half. Their resolve best exemplified when Henry picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran at the defence in typical fashion. However, the Gunner was met by seven - yes, seven Italian defenders and was eventually cut down by Di Biagio. A challenge that gave Frisk no option but to brandish the game's first yellow card.

France picked up the pace toward the end of the first half and even forced Toldo into a save from Djorkaeff's snapshot. Sadly for Les Bleus, Dugarry was wasteful on the right while the impenetrable Italian regard confidently rebuffed their attacks. So far so good for the Italians.

The pattern of play was largely unchanged in the second period, but France injected a little more pace into their play. Five minutes after halftime, Henry, a constant threat, carved out the half's first opening. His direct and skillful run bamboozled Cannavaro. The forward drove toward the edge of the six-yard area after evading the defender, but Mark Iuliano, perfectly positioned, scrambled his low cross away to safety.

Lacking in attacking intent, Dino Zoff was the first to make a move, bringing on Juventus man and the world highest-paid player, Alessandro Del Pierro. The change saw Francesco Totti move to his preferred position at the ten. Immediately, Italy showed some offensive quality and scored the all-important first goal of the final. After Del Pierro had forced a corner with a deep cross, the Italians fashioned an overload on the right. With Bixente Lizarazu on his back, Totti played a clever backheel into Gianluca Pessoto, who had run beyond Zidane. In for the suspended Zambrotta, the fullback produced a stunning cross to find the only white shirt in a sea of blue - Delvecchio. The Roma man's side-foot volley, his first for his country, left Barthez no chance and capped off a near-perfect first hour for the Azzurri.

With the unenviable task of breaking down an Italian defence that held firm in the semi-final, despite being down to ten men, France sent on Bordeaux striker Sylvan Wiltord. However, it was Italy, through Del Pierro, who should have scored next. First, Totti drove at the heart of the porous French defence. Then, with Delvecchio on his right and Del Pierro to the left, the Roman chose Del Pierro, who, upon receiving the pass, had a clear sight on goal. Although Thuram hurried back to cover, Del Pierro, rushed his effort and dragged his strike wide of the goal.

Lemerre's team advanced after the hour, but Cannavaro, Iuliano, and Nesta produced a footballing clinic on the art of defending. The French probed through Zidane and Djorkaeff but were bested by the Italian wall on almost every occasion. When they did manage to break through, Toldo stepped up to deny efforts from Wiltord and Henry. Despite the defensive solidity, the Italians remained a threat in attack. Totti was immense in his preferred central attacking role, and as the French committed more players forward, he exploited the spaces vacated. To go with the opportunity, he laid on for Del Pierro earlier; he produced several inch-perfect passes which his striking teammates should have dispatched.

Now, with only fifteen minutes left on the clock, Lemerre turned to another striker. Many expected Nicolas Anelka, but David Trezeguet stepped into the fray - to his credit, the manager's decision proved prescient. The soon to be Juventus man replaced Djorkaeff with his team now essentially encamped in the Italian half, but with few opportunities of note. However, several minutes later, Del Pierro squandered another opportunity to kill off the game. This time he was put through by substitute Massimo Ambrosini and approached the goal on his favoured right foot. Unfortunately for the Italians, the result was the same, Barthez saved his weak effort - he would rue those glorious chances.

As the clock ticked on, France continued to press, throwing more and more players forward. As the fourth official displayed the four additional minutes, the Italy bench and fans rose from their seats in anticipation of their second European Championship trophy. Four minutes quickly turned to less than one, and the French had time enough for one more chance. It proved to be a cruel end for the Italians in so many ways as they finally came unstuck. Barthez launched a long kick, met expertly by Trezeguet. His header evaded Cannavaro, whose touch on the ball was insufficient to divert away from Wiltord, on the edge of the box. Still, faced with this position numerous times in the game before, the Italian defence would have fancied their ability to deny the forward, but on this occasion, their most consistent performer, Toldo, failed to get a solid hand to Wiltord's low drive.

There were genuinely unbelievable scenes. The contrast of despair and elation demonstrated by the 22 players on the field, their respective benches and the tens of thousands in De Kuip was incredible to witness. France had rescued it in the final moments to take the game into extra time and golden goal. A position they had triumphed from in the semi-final against Portugal just four days prior, surely they couldn't do the same here?

The fans, exhilarated by what they had just witnessed, rang La Marseillaise triumphantly through the stadium as the extra period began. Predictably, it was the French who went on the attack as Zoff's men struggled to shift gears after defending for long stretches, further compounded by their dejection after the late concession. There was only ever going to be one winner after that point, and only thirteen minutes after the restart, David Trezeguet became a French hero. After some excellent play on the left wing by another Lemerre substitute, Robert Pires, Trezeguet powerfully lashed his half volley into the roof of Toldo's net. He wheeled away in celebration, embraced by his teammates and backroom staff, who had sprung from the dugout. An embrace that must have felt like all of France had extended it! The world champions had remarkably, spectacularly, incredibly completed an unprecedented double.