And we had 45 minutes in which to score a goal against an Italian team that was missing a key defender. Despite that disadvantage, they defended exceptionally well, and while we showed a fair whack of spirit our attack was blunt when it counted. Cahill had a lousy night and Kewell was missed, but it wasn't just the strikers- most passes into the goal area went over or wide of their targets. *
You can argue the toss. The decision against Neill looked pretty unfair, but would we have won if it went into extra time, or a penalty shoot against 'the most expensive goalie in the world'? Would we have won if you undid both bad decisions, so that Australia faced a full Italian team for the entire second half?
We can be very biased, as can all nations. Seen from a third party viewpoint, things can look rather different. Extracts from the UK Guardian:
There seemed little danger however, until Lucas Neill slid in idiotically to challenge - at which point Grosso needed no prompting to throw himself over the prone Australia defender and claim the penalty, which despite intense pressure Totti coolly slammed high and hard past Mark Schwarzer.And we were off-target when it counted. So let's celebrate an incredible effort from an underdog team and remember that, when it comes to lousy refereeing, what goes around more often comes back around and goes rocketing past the goalie in the final few seconds.
Totti's redemption was a dramatic end to a disappointingly slow-paced, slow-witted game, the only other notable feature of which was the ridiculous dismissal of Italian defender Marco Materazzi.
It was certainly a foul alright - Materazzi's clumsy challenge was late and two-footed - but it wasn't malicious and Fabio Cannavaro was covering. Inexplicably, however, Spanish referee L Medina Cantalejo brandished a straight red.
Australia may have enjoyed a numerical advantage, but it quickly became clear they were still trailing in terms of quality: while the Italians were failing to get their act together in the penalty box, they were still enjoying the lion's share of possession.
UPDATE: What others are saying...
Sadly it seems no more of these are available. Could've come in handy.C8TO at Catallaxy:
ridiculous referee decisions deciding progressions is a tarnish on the beautiful game.My Canadian workmate:
You remind me of when my wife or grandma tries to talk about sport.Touche, I guess!
(* Lingo updated, lucky I have an Englishman sitting opposite.)