Two bad decisions from the referee put each team at a disadvantage.
Early in the second half, Italian Marco Materazzi was given a red card for what looked like an innocent tumble. It was an unfair dismissal that Materazzi took with exceeding dignity. This was such a bad situation for Italy.
With Italy one man down, Australia had a better chance to win and although they dominated the game with the vast majority of possession, Italy’s famous defense kept them at bay. The Aussies didn’t get many opportunities to penetrate the goal area and on the few occasions they did the world’s most expensive goalie, Buffon, was there to block them.
In the final seconds of injury time Spanish referee, Luis Medina Cantalejo, made his second bad call when thought he saw Australian Lucas Neill foul Italian striker, Fabio Grosso, in the box and awarded Italy a penalty. The clock ticked over so when Francesco Totti converted the penalty the game was over and Australia was going home.
It was a terrible way to end their World Cup campaign. The referee's decision is played over and over again in Australia. I almost wish the footage confirmed the ref's decision, but it clearly shows the Italian tripping over the Australian who was already on the ground.
If they had lost to brilliant playing from the opposing team we could be happier, but since they lost to a bad ref call, and a dramatic dive from Grosso, it seems such a shame.
As SBS reported one German fan saying "I thought they were pretty good and overpowered Italy. But I think the Italians know how to play their cards, with their theatrics, to get what they want, including penalties."
But then one Australian brought us back to reality “Let's get real here and put things into perspective. No one even expected to see the Socceroos reach this tournament let alone the second round," he said. "Now we've just seen our team dominate Italy to the point where you couldn't even tell their footballing traditions ran so much deeper than ours. All I can say to the world is: see you in South Africa in 2010."
Australia is currently ranked 42 in the world. Before this team, Australia had never:
- made it to the World Cup second stage
- won a game at the World Cup
- scored a goal at the World Cup
It’s frustrating that the ref made such a bad decision, but this is football. This is what happens.
I just can’t believe our team accomplished so much. They should feel so proud.
After the game the fans in the stadium applauded them for going further than we had ever gone before.
See how emotional I am over this game. Football fever!!!
On Norton Street, thousands gathered to watch the game in the freezing cold and after it was over the street was strangely quiet compared to the pre-game revelry. People were shocked. The fact that the cheering did not continue after Australia lost goes to show that most Aussies feel a close loyalty to their countries/cultures of origin but that when it comes down to it we're Australians first and foremost.
With both Australia and Sweden knocked out, I'm supporting Germany, but it just won’t be the same.
All quotes were taken from the SBS website.
The first photo came from the SMH website. and the second from the SBS website.