Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Aussie escapades are over
And so, what is arguably the greatest achievement in Australian sporting history ends. What a way to go out - a dramatic and controversial penalty moments before the final whistle. And the irony that the unwitting and possibly innocent culprit Lucas Neill, without doubt Australia's player of the tournament, would be the man to ultimately trigger the final act that was to send his team home.
It's been a magnificent trip and to make such a sudden exit, just as Australia were starting to look as though they would score in extra time, is gutting. May 13th springs to mind.
They played quite well, passing the ball confidently (particularly in the first 20 minutes or so) and really just saw the Azzuri at their defensive best. There's not much you can do about that (although having some more width and maybe bringing Kennedy on instead of Aloisi might have helped, but Italy did look very, very strong defensively). The fortifications held, and we had no ideas.
Was it a penalty? I dunno. I thought so, but everyone else seems to think it wasn't. If it was, it was soft. In my mind if you're going to give a penalty in the last 5 seconds of a World Cup match, it's going to have to be a two footed head high Kung Fu kick - you REALLY want to be sure of it. Having said that, it happened quickly enough that I find it hard to blame the referee - to me, it looked like a penalty, even after several replays. I reckon Neill was impeding the player without actually attempting to play the ball. Grosso definitely played for the penalty, as had many of the other Italians throughout the game, but he was still impeded. As Fozzie said, some refs will give it and some won't. What can you do. It wasn't a red card either, and we sure didn't bitch about that.
Well, I hope Johnny Warren is up there watching it on his 500 inch LCD. The Socceroos have done their Captain proud, and they can only build on it.
Schwarzer 7 confidence inspiring.
Chipperfield 6 a bit dodgy defensively and missed two half chances.
Neill 8 his indescretion for the penalty is barely enough to blot his magnificent record.
Moore 7 reliable again.
Culina 6 Some wayward passes and not much imagination.
Wilkshire 7 I groaned when I heard his name called out but he acquitted himself very well with a studious and disciplined game.
Cahill 7 ran around a lot, and a bit unlucky not to score.
Grella 8 defensively superb.
Bresciano 6 just not himself.
Sterjovski 6 couldn't get involved.
Viduka 6 tried too hard
Aloisi 6 ineffective