Monday, June 26, 2006

Italy dives through to the next round....

12 Seconds, a bad call and Italy move on…

For over 9o plus minutes the Aussies battled soccer powerhouse Italy to a scoreless draw. It looked like the pesky Socceroos would be headed to overtime but with just 12 seconds left in extra time; Lucas Neill was called for fouling Fabio Grosso - a judgment that first had the Australian’s howling in protest, then shaking their heads in bitter defeat.

Grosso already had shaken one Aussie defender as he dribbled a few strides from the goal when Neill slid in front of him. The Italian cut in Neill's direction and tried to leap clear, but tripped over the defender's back.

It was a dive not a penalty and another case of how the officials have had their hands all over the 2006 World Cup.

Moments later, second-half substitute Francesco Totti sent his penalty kick right into the back of the net and Italy had won 1-0.

ESPN crew said very little about the call and talked more about how Italy was able to play poorly and yet advance.

Some great shots of the Italian soccer fans in Sydney dancing in the streets, but very little about the clearly blown call that gave and I do mean gave Italy the win.

Over on XM it was a different story the fans were calling in and talking about how once again a game had been totally ruined by an officials call.

I know that Italy has a huge legion of fans world wide and they may have won the game in overtime or via penalty kicks. But the Aussies deserved a better way to exit the World Cup; they deserved a chance for it to end on the field and not on a dive followed by a PK goal with just 12 seconds left before overtime.

ESPN’s studio gang also should have been more vocal of what happened to the Aussies and perhaps of they had heard XM’s callers they might have.

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