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Sunday, June 18, 2006
Press hit out at 'madmen' of Italy

ROME, June 18 (Reuters) - Italy's sports press hit out at the national team and coach Marcello Lippi on Sunday after the Italians were held to a 1-1 World Cup draw by the United States in a match marred by three red cards.

'An Italy of madmen,' ran the headline on the front page of Corriere dello Sport, which went on to describe its players as 'confused and nervous'.

'Italy did little, too little in the whole of the second half,' it added. 'It seemed like they (the USA) had an extra man. Something had gone wrong for sure.'

Italy took the lead in Saturday night's game through Alberto Gilardino, but had to settle for a point after defender Cristian Zaccardo sliced the ball into his own net in the first half.

Both sides finished the first half with 10 men after the sendings off of Italian Daniele De Rossi and American Pablo Mastroeni. Italy failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority following the 47th-minute dismissal of defender Eddie Pope.

Papers criticised coach Marcello Lippi for his tactics and substitutions against nine men. It also blasted De Rossi, shown the red card for a blatant elbow on U.S. striker Brian McBride.

'It can't pass unobserved the numerical superiority that the Azzurri should have taken advantage of during the second half,' Tuttosport said.

'De Rossi has enormous responsibilities and Lippi would do well to shut the door on his World Cup,' it said.

'Apart from the suspension, De Rossi should finish his days in Germany on the bench.'

The Italian press had hoped the team would show sportsmanship at the World Cup which comes when the game at home is being rocked by a corruption scandal.

Even the more moderate Gazzetta dello Sport struggled to take positives from a match which it called a 'cold shower after the victory (over Ghana) in the opening match'.

'Looking at the (Group E) standings, with Italy top with four points, one could even talk about a small step forwards, but from the point of view of Italy's image and their game their performance represents a worrying double step backwards.'

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