'It would have been unjust if we'd not won'

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The Independent Football

Marcello Lippi predicted "all Hell will have broken loose at home" after Italy's extra-time victory over Germany in the World Cup semi-final. The Azzurri were congratulated by Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister, who attended the match, immediately after the game.

"To beat [the] Germans in their own backyard is amazing," said Lippi, the Italian coach. "We played 50,000 people and we played very well. I think we controlled the match and we deserved the victory.

"I think we were dominant in midfield. We had superiority there and we scored two excellent goals. I'm very happy. It would have been unjust if we had not won, or if we had had to do a penalty shoot-out. We were not that much better but we were superior."

Lippi was less effusive when, in a clear allusion to the match-fixing scandal which has erupted around Serie A, he was asked if this "was a great time for Italian football". He replied: "Italian football is special football, I'll limit my comments to that."

Nor would he admit that the suspension of Torsten Frings had made a difference. Germany's defensive midfielder had been banned after an Italian TV company uncovered footage of him striking Argentina's Julio Cruz in the brawl which followed Germany's quarter-final. "If they had marked [Francesco] Totti, they would have had less influence elsewhere," said Lippi.

Even in defeat, Jürgen Klinsmann, Germany's coach, preferred to concentrate on the positives. "To lose a game like that is a huge disappointment," he said, "but I have to compliment our team the way they played the whole World Cup. The character and spirit they showed was amazing. It is a very young team and they made a country proud. They gave all their heart, they showed their passion, we played great attacking football with fast passing.

"It hurts to get this fatal blow in the last minutes which is why we are disappointed but I have told my team they can be proud, they have achieved an amazing thing in this World Cup. It has been a huge success for us as a team, for the country.

"We will swallow this bitter pill and try and give our supporters a good match in the third-place game on Saturday. I congratulated Marcello Lippi and wished him good luck for Sunday," said Klinsmann, referring to the final in which Italy will now face Portugal or France, who meet tonight.

Of his own future, Klinsmann would not be drawn. "That is not important now, we should be talking about the team, not me." But he added: "I need to take some time to talk to my family."

Miroslav Klose, the Germany striker who is still two goals clear as the leading scorer at this World Cup, with five goals, said: "We can still be proud of this team. We have a lot of young players and we have a future. Both sides had shots and chances to decide the match, but my compliments to the Italians. They played hard and scored nice goals."

"We had good chances to score," said Germany left-back Philipp Lahm. "It's bitter to lose so close to the end of the match. We didn't lack any freshness. We were still fit, everyone could still run.

"There were two very good teams out there. There weren't many chances, it was a balanced match, we had our chances too. It's hard to find an explanation. We're very disappointed."

The last word went to influential Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who added: "It was a fantastic match, full of emotion, and a dream came true, the dream of playing in a World Cup final. We deserved to win, we created quite a few chances."

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