This is the moment everyone remembers from '06 and that will never change. It was an unfortunate end, not only to a great tournament, but to the career of arguably the best playmaker in the game. A collective quiet came over the world when Zizou capped another "man of the match" performance with ... a headbutt to the chest of Marco Materazzi? For many the World Cup ended there. The Italians lifted the trophy less than an hour later after winning on penalties, but that was almost a footnote in the final.
McBride's bloody face
When the U.S. met Italy, everyone expected a lop-sided match. But it turned out to be a physical, bruising affair. Both teams were taken down to 10 men, but the moment we all remember was an elbow thrown to the head of Brian McBride. Of course Daniele de Rossi deserved to have his night cut short by the incident, but what we didn’t expect was to see Brian McBride turn to the camera, looking like a battered prizefighter.
Ghana reaches knockout stage
Due to the style of pick-up soccer played in Ghana, the country produces extremely talented midfielders. Led by Michael Essien in '06, Ghana emerged out of the so-called "Group of Death" -- handily beating both the U.S. and the Czechs -- like a team without knowledge of history. Fans of the Black Stars started imagining the impossible, with images of their jubilation being broadcast all over the world. Unfortunately, an encounter with defending champion Brazil and a defensive naivety brought about their downfall just a few days later. Watch out for this team in 2010.
Grosso's dive against Australia
Italians have a reputation for gamesmanship: verbal provocation, quick free kicks, and yes, even diving. They are not the only practitioners, but they are the masters. During stoppage time in this quarterfinal, Fabio Grosso theatrically fell over Lucas Neill, who was already on the ground. A red-card was shown and a penalty kick was promptly awarded, which Francesco Totti nailed. The game immediately ended. No chance for an Australian fight back. It was devastating to the Socceroos, who had fought to their best ever World Cup performance.
Zidane tortures Brazil
France met Brazil in the quarterfinals and what transpired was a performance for the ages, demonstrating once and for all that this is The Beautiful Game. Zidane's play was effortless and spectacular, his ability to keep possession impeccable. The highlight was a 1-on-1 with Kaka in which Zidane trapped the ball out of the air with his right foot, dropping it onto his right knee to catch it for a side-footed volley with his left foot. In the end, spectators were left awestruck by the power of one man to make the world's best squad look like a pub team.
Four red cards in POR vs. NED
Before the quarterfinal match even started, the media were already up in arms about tournament-wide disciplinary miscues (referee Grahame Poll, for example, showed 3 yellow cards to the same Croatian player in one match). Then this happened. To call the Portugal-Netherlands encounter contentious is an understatement. Referee Valentin Ivanov showed a record total of 16 cards to players from both teams and the game ended with each team having only 9 men on the pitch. The sting was out of the match and it ended 1-0 to Portugal.
Lehmann's PK crib notes
Germany and Argentina were deadlocked 1-1 at the end of a tense extra time, with players needing to be treated for cramping all over the field. Penalties were on order. German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann openly studied a cheat sheet on the tendencies of the opposing spot-kickers. This seemed to unnerve members of the Argentine team, who played right into Lehmann's crib notes. The cheat sheet was translated as: “Riquelme left high; Crespo long run/right, short run/left; Heinze left low; Ayala long wait, long run right; Messi left; Aimar long wait left; Rodriguez left.” The Germans won 4-2.
Rooney steps on Carvalho's crown jewels
England's Cup hopes were largely pinned on the hotheaded 20-year-old striker in 2006. When he broke his metatarsal in April, many feared he wouldn't feature at all. But a miraculous recovery gave fans of the Three Lions hope. Unfortunately, Rooney never found fitness and in a frustrating quarterfinals appearance, he got tangled up with defender Ricardo Carvalho and stamped down on his groin. Was it intentional? Referee Hector Elizondo thought it was, sending Rooney off with a straight red. England would continue their dreadful penalty kick form, quickly losing 3-1 in the shootout.
Maxi's wonder goal vs. Mexico
This was supposed to be an easy win for Argentina. They cruised through group play while Mexico barely made it out of Group D with 4 points. But opening knockout-round match surprisingly hung in the balance after full time, tied 1-1. Eight minutes into extra time, Mexico's dreams were shattered by the goal of the tournament. Juan Sorin's pass landed square on Maxi Rodriguez's chest, who masterfully controlled the ball, setting up a stunning volley that found the top far corner of Oswaldo Sanchez's net. The 'keeper never had a chance.
Grosso's 119th minute goal vs. Germany
An interesting byproduct of playing host in the 2006 World Cup was a newfound national pride in Germany. Flags were being waved and a divided country finally felt united, saying “wir sind wieder wer” (“we are someone again”). When extra time was ticking down in a scoreless semifinal vs. Italy, the match seemed destined to be settled on penalties, an area of the game in which the Germans are masters. But Fabio Grosso (right, in photo) stunned everyone by curling Andrea Pirlo's threaded pass past goalkeeper Jens Lehmann with just one minute left, crushing the heart of a nation.