What a great game. Playing a man down, Italy manages to hold the Socceroos back 0-0 as stoppage time is expiring. Both teams have numerous closeup attempts on goal with a number of turning strikes. Grosso of Italy gets by the Australian defender to the right of the goal, gets taken down in the box, and Italy gets a PK with stoppage time expiring. Totti punches it in, Italy wins 1-0. WOW.
The Socceroos could never seem to press the Italians back and take advantage of playing a man up. Italy was dangerous near the goal often even though the Socceroos controlled the ball more. Say what you will about the Italian Diving Team, but they definitely have sweet ball control and stripped the Socceroos of the ball often.
As for the referee, the red card was a really close call. Balboa on ESPN felt Materazzi wasn’t the last defender, but it was REALLY close. Overall, I thought that ref dished out cards that were called for and let the game flow. I think this referee, Luis Medina Cantalejo, makes the short list for the final. I don’t see how you question the PK, the Australian never touched the ball no matter how much Grosso dove.
UPDATE: Some fans are saying they don’t think Neill ever touched Grosso at all. I thought he did then slid out of bounds when ESPN showed the replay. So I went to FIFA’s official site to check the video highlights and was amazed to find highlights for every shot and red card up through the 81st minute. Then the highlight film goes black without showing the foul or the PK. Odd.
UPDATE II: ESPN showed it again during halftime of the Ukraine v Switzerland match. It looked to me that Neill missed him on the initial tackle, but then Grosso tripped/fell over Neill’s torso. Could Grosso have stayed up? Probably, but damn he’d been playing for a full 90 and Neill was half sitting up when Grosso went over him. I think the ref got it right – PK.
UPDATE III: I know I’m not taking the popular angle for thinking the PK was legit. But watching the replay some more, you have to hand it to Grosso. He pulled the ball back at the last possible second before Neill touched it which made all the difference in the world. Neill was headed straight for the ball as he slid. Grosso flicks it towards himself and Neill misses, ending up right in front and under Grosso who falls/dives/trips whatever over him. PK.