Rome explodes with joy as Italy reach World Cup final

ROME, July 5, 2006 (AFP) – The Italian capital burst into wild celebrations on Tuesday after Italy scored two late goals to beat host nation Germany in the World Cup semi-final.

After watching TV coverage of a tense two hours of play in Dortmund, cries of joy rang out from apartments and cafes in Rome after Fabio Grosso and then Alessandro Del Piero scored the decisive goals to take Italy into Sunday’s final.

Minutes after the final whistle, a stream of cars and mopeds streamed into the streets of the capital, sounding their horns in joy, while supporters waved Italy’s white, red and green flag.

Thousands of Italian fans had watched the match on a giant screen at the Circo Massimo in the heart of ancient Rome.

While most bars installed TV sets for customers to follow the action, the capital’s venerable Peroni restaurant simply closed for the evening, informing customers in a notice outside: "Sorry, but Italy are playing."

The joyous reaction at the victory in Dortmund overtook the shock felt earlier in the day when the Italian Football Federation’s prosecutor called for all four clubs at the centre of a match-fixing scandal to be thrown out of Serie A.

Prosecutor Stefano Palazzi called for Juventus to drop two divisions, and be stripped of its 2005 and 2006 titles, and for AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio to drop one division.