Socceroos Robbed By Diving Azzurri’s!

June 27, 2006

“ROBBED! Dirty diving Italians…”, I smsed to a few of my friends this morning (my wife is Italian so there was no racism intended in my remarks). I was of course mentioning Australia’s loss to Italy at the 2006 World Cup, due to a dubious referee decision, in the 92nd minute of their Round of 16 encounter. What a shattering way to be bundled out!

Australia had played especially well in the first half, applying great pressure to the Italian backs but not able to convert. Mark Schwarzer was playing great for Australia, having already saved a number of shots on goal by the Azzurri. Italy also had some beautiful attempts on goal with Luca Toni looking particularly dangerous with his control of the ball in the air and the ground superb:

Photo: AFP

The 2nd half started and in the 50th minute Italy lost Marco Materazzi to a red card for a challenge on Australian Marco Bresciano – on replay it appeared that Materazzi had actually tripped up another Italian player but off the field he was sent. I’m no believer in karma but fate would have it that this incorrect decision would be evened before the end of the game.

For the next 43+ minutes, Australia tried to penetrate Italy’s defensive line but just couldn’t find a way in or if they did get in, couldn’t execute a kick/header to score that elusive goal. With only 10 men on the pitch, Italy did well in their half and relied on a counter attacking game for offence – this lead to several advances into Australia’s box but the defenders managed to stop all attempts.

Then disaster struck. 3 minutes into injury time and 8 seconds from the end of the game, Fabio Grosso broke into the Australian box by getting around Bresciano. Lucas Neill came forward and tackled Grosso who flung himself to the ground, in a deliberate dive, after making contact to Neill’s body with his left foot:

Photo: AP

Referee Luis Medina Cantalejo signalled a penalty kick and Francesco Totti slotted the ball past Schwarzer with ease:

Photo: Getty Images

And thus ended Australia’s gallant efforts, in spectacular circumstances, at the 2006 World Cup. No doubt, it shouldn’t have been a penalty kick but Australia shouldn’t have let itself get in to that situation – their defence had started to lighten up as their went all out for victory in normal time.

Still, at the end of the day, Australia should be proud to have been in the Round of 16 and can hold its head up high to have kept Italy 0-0 for 90+ minutes of the game. Well done Socceroos, well done!

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Australian Socceroos Through To Round Of 16!

June 23, 2006

Another great game of football! Full of passion, intensity, suspense, twists and plenty of yellow cards, with a few reds thrown in for good measure too. This was the game that Australia either needed to win, if Japan beat Brazil and beat them well, or draw with Croatia to go through to the round of 16 in the World Cup 2006.

It didn't start well for the Socceroos with Mark Viduka giving away a free kick which was converted by Darijo Sma into a goal within the first 2 minutes of play. Oh no, not the start we'd hoped for!

36 minutes later and Craig Moore put away a penalty kick after Stjepan Tomas, from Croatia, was penalised for a hand-ball in the box. Scores even (1-1) and momentum clearly in favour of Australia as Croatia played a more defensive game, trying to ride the game out.

In the 56th minute disaster struck as Australian goalie Zeljko Kalac let through an absolutely shocking kick by Niko Kovac – Kalac managed to block the ball with a side dive but the top spin on the ball kept it going, straight into the back of the net! It was such a soft goal that the Australian crowd was stunned to silence. 2-1 in Croatia's favour and things were again looking dicey.

Then in the 79th minute, Harry Kewell sealed the game (a draw of 2-2) for Australia with a lovely left footed strike from a head deflection! Here's a picture of the resulting jubilee amongst the Socceroos:

Photo: Vince Caligiuri (The Age)

Australia managed to hold on for the last 13 or so minutes to come away with a draw, which was all they needed having learnt that Japan had gone down 4-1 to Brazil.

It was a pretty scrappy game with many yellows handed out to the Croatian team (as well as two red cards) and a few yellows plus a red given to Australia. The referring was pretty average (there were two more possible penalty kicks for Australia that weren't awarded) but thankfully it didn't make much difference to the end result.

Next round we take on Italy which is a knock out game (it's the quarter finals after all). I personally believe we can take them down and progress to the semi finals which will be magnificent seeing as many people wrote us off to even progress past the Pool round.

Go the Socceroos! Oi Oi Oi!

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