Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Naive Australia Pay the Penalty

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Naive Australia Pay the Penalty

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

SOUNDING a little like fleeced innocents abroad, Australia's World Cup men departed the competition here crying foul about shocking refereeing, establishment bias towards the big teams and Italian crybabies. For a team which had so illuminated the tournament, the sort of whingeing they would normally associate with the Poms represented a sad way to go.

They may have deserved better than to finally bow out in the second round to Italy's injury-time penalty - converted boldly by substitute Francesco Totti - which was never a penalty. Yes, you could understand them feeling robbed by another dismal referee.

And, of course, you had to feel sorry for a crew largely made up of Premiership yeomen and deprived of their star man Harry Kewell - because of gout, believe it or not - whose cohesive team performance still put the fragmented efforts of England's superstars to shame.

However, as Tim Cahill talked about the Socceroos being able to hold heads up high "for playing fair" while comparing this "honesty" with some nefarious Italian ploys, you could hear a touch of naivety in the laments. Forget the conspiracy theories; Australia ultimately succumbed because they just weren't quite streetwise enough at this level.

Everybody fancied a crack at the Azzurri. "It's just shocking. You fall over and you get a penalty.

Shocking," muttered Cahill about Fabio Grosso's theatrical sprawl over the top of the prone Lucas Neill, whose splendid tournament deserved a better ending than this.

"Anyone could see it wasn't a penalty. You got big guys out there, falling over and crying literally.

When I went up in the air for one challenge, I couldn't believe the guy, much bigger than me, ended up rolling around, holding his head," said Cahill.

"For me, it's a disgrace - but that's how it goes. …

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