With just 30 seconds to go, Italy was celebrating its first European Championship title in 32 years.
The party began a little bit too early
But Sylvain Wiltord shocked Italy by tying the game 3 1/2 minutes into injury time, and David Trezeguet scored the winner 13 minutes into overtime to give the World Cup champions a 2-1 victory Sunday in the final of the European Championship.
"Everybody thought we were dead," Thierry Henry said. "With the French team, it is never over. I was pretty annoyed the Italians were already thinking of victory. They were clapping hands and high-fiving. It was bothering me so, I was really happy when the ball went in."
The win gave Les Bleus the first sweep of the two most prestigious titles in soccer and continued a run of disappointment for the Italians.
"I think a thing like this you won't forget for a lifetime," defender Alessandro Nesta said. "Thirty seconds from the end and it all goes up in air."
Many of the Italians dropped to the ground in dismay and disbelief.
"When you feel victory is in your hands and it slips away, it takes a lot out of your spirit," Italy coach Dino Zoff said. "But it was a great effort. I'm really sorry, but this is soccer."
Italy went ahead in the 56th minute when Gianluca Pessotto curled a low cross into the penalty area, and Marco Delvecchio stabbed it into the upper part of the net. Delvecchio, playing just his fifth international game, redirected the ball with the inside of his left foot, and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez had no chance.
The Azzurri could have opened up a bigger lead, but Alessandro Del Piero missed two good scoring chances in the second half.
When all seemed lost for the French, Wiltord finally found a hole in the Italian defense, beating goalkeeper Francesco Toldo with a low angled shot as injury time was coming to an end. It followed a length-of-field kick by Barthez that defender Fabio Cannivaro tried to clear, only to have the ball go straight to the unmarked Frenchman.
The French pushed ever harder in overtime, and Robert Pires broke on the left and passed low into the path of Trezeguet, who volleyed high into the net from 10 yards out.
"It is the willpower of the team that did it," France coach Roger Lemerre said. "The team wanted this trophy since the day it won the World Cup. We said that, if there was a second left, we had to go all out for it. The miracle happened and we caused it."
Both Wiltord and Trezeguet started the game on the bench, with Wiltord entering in the 58th minute for Christophe Dugarry and Trezeguet in the 76th for Youri Djorkaeff.
Zoff had been less than a a minute away from becoming the first man to win the European Championship both as coach and player.
Del Piero should have made it a 2-0 game in the 58th minute when Francesco Totti's pass sent him clear. But with only Barthez to bat, Del Piero rolled his shot wide of the far post.
Del Piero had another open shot in the 83rd minute, but Barthez blocked it with a leg.
"Regret is to say little," Del Piero said. "I feel guilty."
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed