TURIN, ITALY, JULY 4 -- If you believe there's a certain sameness to soccer, you may be right in one respect: The outcomes often seem alike. But it's the unique experience of arriving at what appears a similar conclusion that gives the game its kick.
Tonight -- just like the previous night -- a World Cup semifinal match was played to a 1-1 draw through extra time and decided 4-3 on penalty kicks. Tonight, favored West Germany prevailed against the tenacious English, who were playing their third straight overtime game.
With the same score by which Argentina upset Italy Tuesday night in Naples, West Germany advanced to Sunday's title game against the same opponent it met -- and lost to -- for the 1986 Cup. And the anticipated violence from the soccer hooligans materialized as a West German fan was stabbed and in serious condition after a scuffle before the match.
"I respect Argentina," said Franz Beckenbauer, West Germany's coach who is known as "The Kaiser." But with Argentina's key goal-scorer, Claudio Caniggia, among those ineligible to play because of accumulated penalty violations, Beckenbauer had to admit, "It's a very good opportunity to beat Argentina."
England's coach, Bobby Robson, said he's seen enough major games decided by penalty kicks. "I believe we should play on," he said. "I don't say this just because we lost. . . .
"This was a beautiful game, one of thrust and counterthrust. It's unfortunate that a team of this caliber has to go out. But that's competition. I think it showed the tenacity and temperament of our players. . . . They've given everything of themselves and for the country. We can go home with honor. But there are tears in the dressing room. I try to keep mine from falling."
The English team came to prove something tonight. It is regarded with nothing short of contempt on the continent for its style of play: kick the ball deep to the corners and chase. The English are considered the dinosaurs of the game.
Just the opposite, the West Germans do things the purists' way: They dribble and pass exquisitely, they're good in the air, they attack with awesome scorers.
The contrasting powers came together in a first half that was slow, almost a delicate feeling out except for the pain that Rudi Voeller, one of the Germans' top three scorers, felt when he was kicked in the calf and could no longer play. He was literally dragged from the fray, the feeling lost in his leg. Beckenbauer said he hopes Voeller will be able to play Sunday.
The second half was played with the more enthusiasm. Faster and smoother, the Germans kept pouring downfield until the 59th minute when Andreas Brehme, after taking a nudged ball from Olaf Thon on an indirect free kick, sent a line drive that banged off the foot of England's Paul Parker. The ball then soared long and high and over the outstretched hand of England's 40-year-old goalie, Peter Shilton.
But as it has before in these finals, the English team rallied. Tough midfielder Paul Gascoigne -- "Gazza" -- led the charge.
England's break came in the 80th minute when Parker sent a long centering pass toward money man Gary Lineker, parked in front of German goaltender Bodo Illgner. The ball ticked off the left leg of Juergen Kohler, went behind Klaus Augenthaler and past the aimless kick of Thomas Berthold. The rest was easy; the top goal-scorer of the '86 Cup, Lineker cleaned up for his fourth goal of 1990.
It was then time for five minutes of rest, then two extra-time periods of 15 minutes each with no break between them except a few seconds for the teams to change directions. It didn't seem possible, but the pace quickened. Scoring opportunities took the breath from the Stadio Delle Alpi crowd of 62,628. The teams even traded shots that struck the goalposts.
West Germany applied most of the pressure only to have England's Chris Waddle hit the right post; a few minutes later, the Germans' Guido Buchwald hit the right post at the other end. That was as close as either team could get to an outright decision.
Kicking first from the penalty spot 12-yards in front of the goal, Lineker scored easily. So then did Brehme. England's Peter Beardsley scored, followed by West Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus, the team's high scorer who was otherwise shut out. David Platt kicked and scored for England; Karlheinz Riedle followed for West Germany. Each time the Germans kicked, Shilton guessed right on the direction but was always an instant late. Then came the end for England.
Stuart Pearce kicked left-footed directly to Illgner. Thon made West Germany's fourth kick. Then Waddle ended the game by kicking high, missing the goal by a wide margin. "We fancy Pearce," Robson said. "We held him out for the fourth spot because he usually doesn't miss. I feel sorry for the boy. He feels very bad. Then, of course, Waddle missed. We would have liked to have put pressure on their fifth kicker."
So the outcome went the way soccer purists prefer. In European thinking, if a team is technically superior and has the talent, it deserves to win. The upset, a cherished American concept, is neither appreciated nor seen for its beauty when it comes to a great soccer team losing to an inferior one.
It's why so much regret has been expressed at these games for Brazil and Italy, and so little credit given Argentina for slaying both giants.
The tense game was played out in a city already under tension because of the presence of English fans. On the eve of the game, an ugly incident occurred -- but the English were not to blame. Italian thugs attacked many English who are living here in a park, an arrangement by police.
Many of the Italians, who threw rocks at the English, wore scarves of black and white, the colors of the Juventus club team located here. Thirty-five Juventus fans were among those killed five years ago in Brussels's Heysel Stadium in a riot set off by English hooligans.
One English fan here suffered a knife wound in his leg. One police officer and two Italians were treated at a hospital. There were no arrests, but Italian authorities barred 43 Italian youths from attending soccer games for one year, starting with tonight's game. The German stabbing victim, identified as Manfred Girr, 23, underwent emergency surgery after being knifed in the back when hundreds of West Germans throwing firecrackers fought English fans near Turin railway stations shortly before the match.
Molotov cocktails were thrown by the Italian youths, some of whom were tear-gassed by police. Late this afternoon, a skirmish broke out at the central train station here among English fans and Italian youths. But Italian police continued their every effort to keep order. More than 5,000 policemen were staked out from downtown to the stadium, trying to keep English and West German fans separated and the revenge-minded Italians away from the English.
Beckenbauer, whose first Cup appearance was in 1966, is about to retire after 25 years as celebrated player and coach. More than anything at the moment, he wants to bow out a World Cup winner. West Germany's victory tonight gives him the chance to join Mario Zagalo of Brazil as winner of a World Cup as both player and coach.