Australia’s World Cup run has been halted by Italy, with the referee again a central figure to the drama. Totti scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot with the very last kick of the game, to send Italy through to the quarter finals. Kewell was absent from the biggest match in Australia’s history with a touch of gout. How we needed him. Italy had most chances to score in the first half, with Schwarzer pulling off some fine saves. At the beginning of the second half, the referee quite unbelievably sent off Materazzi for what was at worst a yellow card offence: he clumsily brought down Bresciano on the edge of the area. Italy were down to ten men. As was to be expected, Australia dominated the rest of the match. However, we were very unimaginative in attack. There were no incisive passes. Nobody was prepared to run at the Italian defence until Aloisi came on towards the end. He caused the Italians a few nervous moments, but we still had nothing to show for it. If it had gone to extra time, we might well have had something to show for it. Then, in the 94th minute, Grosso made his way into the Australian penalty area. Lucas Neill went to ground in an effort to dispell the danger. The challenge was mistimed, but Neill didn’t collect Grosso. Instead, Grosso made the most of the situation by stepping into the prone figure of Neill and went down. Penalty. Totti gave Schwarzer no chance with the kick. A truly awful way to be knocked out of the tournament, but Italy deserve credit for surviving so long with ten men.
The Australian team have done the nation proud. It was a wonderful ride while it lasted. Revenge in four years.