Monday, June 26, 2006
The Australian Socceroos had the ball more, but the more experienced Azzuri defenders created an impenetrable defence, limiting the number of Australian scoring opportunities. This was despite the Italian team shrinking to ten men after Marco Materazzi was shown a controversial straight red card in the 50th minute.
Australia looked to have gained an advantage when Marco Bresciano surged through the Italy defence and Materazzi slid in to trip him up. Though there was an Italy defender on Bresciano’s shoulder, Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo deemed that the tackle was deliberately not aimed at the ball, and considered the foul worth more than a single yellow card. It would not be the only disputed decision in the match.
Both sides had a number of good opportunities to score, but the shots were generally too close to the box to beat the goalkeepers. The best save of the game was made by Mark Schwarzer from a Luca Toni effort 20 minutes into the game.
Guus Hiddink delayed making attacking substitutions against ten-men Italy likely because he expected the game to go to extra time, and so wished to keep a fitness advantage later on in the game. Hiddink’s only substitution, John Aloisi, came on at the 80th minute, while the Italian coach Marcello Lippi had made three, including the crucial one of Totti five minutes earlier.
In the attack Totti was a straight swap for Alessandro Del Piero, a fresh pair of legs which ensured Italy were a threat on the break right until the end of the regular period of play. It was a tactic that paid dividends in the end.
The second disputed referee decision was a penalty kick was awarded to Fabio Grosso three minutes into added time (and the last minute of game time). Grosso was running towards goal from out wide having avoided Marco Bresciano before being obstructed by Lucas Neill. The central defender had fallen to the ground early and Grosso, though not tripped, was impeded and dived straight over him. Medina awarded a penalty shot as this occurred within the penalty area.
Totti, dropped from the game in favour of Del Piero, grinned slightly as he placed the ball on the spot. The ball was struck close to the upper-right corner of Schwarzer’s box, the goalie could do nothing to stop the ball. It was the last kick of the game and the Italians celebrated.
The prize was a quarter-final match against the lowest ranked FIFA team in their half of the knock-out tree, Ukraine.