||ESPNsoccernet: World Cup
Monday, June 26, 2006
Lippi has 'no doubts' over controversial penalty
KAISERSLAUTERN, June 26 (Reuters) - Coach Marcello Lippi hailed 10-man Italy's determination to beat Australia 1-0 on Monday and said their winning penalty was rightly given.
Defender Marco Materazzi was sent off in the 50th minute,
but substitute Francesco Totti converted a controversial penalty
in stoppage-time to book them into the quarter-finals.
The turning point came when defender Fabio Grosso fell over
Lucas Neill's challenge in the area.
'When in the 92nd minute, our defender headed into the area
and was taken down for a nailed-on penalty, I think it was
something fantastic,' Lippi said.
'And Totti converted it with real skill.'
Pressed about the penalty decision, Lippi said: 'There were
two fouls on him. He didn't go down under the first and he
carried on dribbling and then sustained another clear foul.
'Why?' he asked the news conference. 'Does anyone have any
doubts about the penalty?'
As for his team's performance, he said: 'In the first half
we didn't let them have anything during open play, not even a
long shot, and we had four really clear scoring chances.
'In the second half, down to 10 men against 11 we suffered
-- but still gave very little away.
'There was a real desire to succeed and real determination
-- plus a bit of organisation because it is not easy to defend
'It's an indescribable joy,' he said of the victory. 'I'm
really delighted. These lads showed great heart, great character
and also great quality.'
Asked about Luca Toni and Alberto Gilardino's failure to
take those chances, he said: 'The important thing is that we
have gone through and that there's another opportunity for the
players to take those chances.'
Lippi said that Totti, who had been sidelined by injury
before the finals, had been kept on the bench because he had
been tired at the end of their last game.
'I assumed the rhythm in the opening stages of the game
would be very high so I decided to spare him that and put him on
the second half.
'And I hope that scoring such an important goal in the last
minute will give him an extra boost.'