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NYC World Cup Fans Cheer France, Italy

July 10, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ Outside Felix, a French restaurant and bar in lower Manhattan, fans of France’s soccer team chanted ``Allez Les Bleus!″

Just across the street, at the Italian restaurant Le Streghe, fans shouted ``Forza Italia!″

Two restaurants, two teams, plenty of hopes _ and only one winner Sunday.

Pass the pasta.

The Italians defeated France in a 5-3 penalty-kick shootout to win their fourth World Cup title after a 1-1 tie.

``It’s incredible,″ said Italy fan Rob Holzer, 36, of New York, as he stood outside the restaurants. Holzer said it was especially sweet because in 1994, Italy lost in the same manner as the French. Also, Holzer said, the French beat Italy at the 2000 Euro Cup.

``This is retribution,″ Holzer said. ``It’s huge.″

While Holzer said he wished they would have won on a regular goal, other Italy fans seemed to care less about method than result.

``I told you Italy was going to win this year!″ Anthony Ricciardelli, 21, of New York, shouted to his friend as they walked to Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood to celebrate. ``I told you!″

How excited were the Italy fans? Moments after their team’s victory, someone broke a window above Novecento, another Manhattan restaurant where fans of Italy gathered. Police said it was the inadvertent result of an overjoyed fan.

Following the victory, some Italy fans, their faces painted green, red and white, cheered from sidewalks and fire escapes as others waved the Italian flag.

Meanwhile, fans of France were quietly coping.

``I think France is a better team overall: more skilled, tighter and cleaner,″ said Ellen Livshin, 24, as she left Felix, where a large blue, white and red French flag hugged the building. ``Italy plays a little bit dirty.″

Julien Leyssene, a 23-year-old fan from Paris living in New York, said he was ``crushed.″

``It’s not an honorable way to win,″ Leyssene said of the penalty kicks.

Alissa Chestone, 24, of New York, viewed Italy’s victory differently.

``Italians, we have so much more heart than they do,″ Chestone said. ``We just knew innately we were going to win.″

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