- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Losing on a lone penalty kick is tough.

Losing a World Cup game on a penalty kick in the dying seconds of injury time when the clock might already have expired is pure agony.

That, however, was the fate of Australia, which lost to Italy 1-0 yesterday in the second round of the World Cup before 46,000 at the Fritz-Walter Stadion.

Australia, a nation normally associated with tennis, swimming, surfing and cricket, had played the three-time world champion Italian team to a scoreless tie and had appeared to have forced 30 minutes of extra time.

The Italians were in a tough spot. They had used all three of their substitutions and played with 10 men for 40 minutes.

But Francesco Totti was awarded a controversial penalty kick in the 95th minute. He converted and sent Australia home, devastated.

“It’s a knockout in the dying seconds of the game,” Australian coach Guus Hiddink said. “You can doubt the penalty kick, but overall we were knocked out.”

Australia’s first-round victories over Japan and Croatia sent the folks Down Under wild. Millions of Australians had been getting up in the early hours to watch the games, quite a shift in fortune for a nation that didn’t even score a goal in its lone Cup appearance more than 30 years ago.

But experience paid off for the Italians, who have been in similar situations so many times.

“We were pretty well organized and we defended well with 10 men,” coach Marcello Lippi said. “And in the 92nd minute when a defender gets in the area and does well with great skill, that is something.”

Australia stymied the Italy attack for more than 90 minutes, creating its own good chances.

The Aussies’ fate, however, came down to one play. With only seconds left on the clock, Italian defender Fabio Grosso controlled a high ball on the right flank and ran into the 18-yard box. He escaped a tackle from Aussie midfielder Marco Bresciano but then tripped over the prone body of Lucas Neill.

The referee pointed to the penalty spot. Totti, Italy’s star, took the 12-yard spot kick, sending it easily past goalie Mark Schwarzer and breaking the hearts of the Australians.

The referee blew the final whistle. Australia’s dream abruptly ended. Italy advanced to the quarterfinals.

Hiddink was convinced it wasn’t a penalty, and it did appear the three minutes of added time had run out.

“The only thing I can say is that we were not lethal enough and then we got caught in the last minute,” Hiddink said. “If you see the replay there is no doubt is was not a penalty kick.”

Ukraine 0, Switzerland 0

COLOGNE, Germany — Ukraine made the quarterfinals in its first World Cup by blanking Switzerland for 120 minutes, then shutting out the Swiss in a shootout.

Goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskyi didn’t have to work very hard all night, especially in the shootout. Two Swiss misses were right at him, the other went off the crossbar.

Meanwhile, Artem Milevskiy, Serhiy Rebrov and Oleg Gusev hit the net after Ukraine star Andriy Shevchenko’s weak, low shot was stopped by Switzerland’s Pascal Zuberbuehler.

• The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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