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No trauma for Trapattoni

Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni insisted he and his eliminated team will be leaving UEFA EURO 2004™ "with our heads held high."

There will be no final appearance for Italy at UEFA EURO 2004™ after an agonising finish to this match in Guimarães. Antonio Cassano thought he had scored the goal that would take Italy to the quarter-finals in the fourth minute of added time only to discover that Denmark and Sweden had drawn the other Group C match 2-2, meaning that Italy's late win against Bulgaria was irrelevant.

Spectacular winner
Martin Petrov had given Plamen Markov's side the lead right on the half-time whistle after Marco Materazzi had brought down Dimitar Berbatov in the penalty area. Italy rallied in the second half after Simone Perrotta had brought them level three minutes after the restart, but despite Cassano's spectacular winner, the Azzurri lost out to Denmark by a solitary goal.

'Heads high'
Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni felt the outcome might have been different had his side taken more of the chances that came their way against Bulgaria. "There were two great chances for Cassano which would have given us the advantage when it was still 0-0," he said. "I think we deserved to win the match. We leave with our heads held high, especially because we deserved to win the previous match against Sweden.

'Future potential'
"The team gave me everything and answered some of the recent talk about internal problems. When you get these results, there are many causes. You could say technique or substitutions. You can also talk about a foul which the referee didn't give, but I don't want to talk about the referee. We've a lot of potential for the future with some young players who can really aspire to great things."

No comment
Trapattoni refused to dwell on the 2-2 draw between Denmark and Sweden, saying only: "I am a sportsman so I don't comment on these things. The match was probably correct and that was the result at the end of it."

More spirit
Bulgaria coach Plamen Markov was disappointed to have lost the game right at the death. His side were already out of the competition before this match, but he felt they showed more spirit against the Italians and deserved at least a point from their final fixture.

Experience key
"Each loss is painful and this one is no exception," said Markov. "I think we played better tonight than against Denmark. Unfortunately we couldn't keep the score at 1-1, which would have been a prestigious result for our team. The most important thing for us is the experience the players have gained here. Until now we had only two players who'd played in a tournament like this before so this is the most important thing to come out of the finals for us."

Renewal decision
As to his own future, Markov remains sanguine knowing that his contract with the governing body comes to an end later this month. "The president of the Bulgarian Football Union said he would suggest another contract to me but when he does this I will answer," Markov explained. "When I see the terms, I will answer. I’m not worried about whether I'll be the coach or not. The most important thing is that the team should develop and be successful."

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