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World Cup Day 18 - Italy through in late drama

Italy have gone through to the last eight amidst late dram against Australia.

An injury time penalty from Francesco Totti when extra-time loomed broke the Aussies hearts but in truth was deserved for a fine defensive performance after Materazzi's dismissal shortly after half-time.

But it was a game in which refereeing decisions will again take the headlines as the penalty award was generous at best. At 'real' speed I thought it was nailed on, but the replays showed Grosso (who did excellently in the build up) only collided with Lucas Neill, who made an ill-judged decision to go to ground.

This was after Italy had been reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Marco Materazzi just after half time.

I thought that the Australians would make this a tough game and it proves the coaching credentials of Guus Hiddink, underlining the fact that both he and Scolari should have been pursued more vigorously for the England job. However, Hiddink must be rueing the fact that Australia did not really go all out at any stage during the game, which made the Italians job that much easier. In fact, it wasn't until ten minutes from time until Aloisi was brought on in support of Viduka.

Australia enjoyed much of the possession in the first half, but without Harry Kewell rarely threatened Buffon in the Italian net. It was Italy who had the chances in the first half but both Gilardino and Toni could have showed more composure.

The sending off of Materazzi was a poor decision, neither being the last man or 'lunging' to deserve the red card. Unsuprisingly, Toni was sacrificed for Barzagli and it galvanised Australia who sensed their chance.

It needed a strong performance from Cannavaro and he underlined why he has been considered world-class for the some time and the Italians slowed down the tempo of the game, eliminating any risk from their performance but the Australians could not take advantage with Buffon only making one telling save during the second-half.

It was Italy who actually had the better of the play during the last few minutes and from the move which brought the penalty, Grosso had options to square the ball to strikers who were in a better position. He chose to go alone though and won the penalty as time expired.

And it was Francesco Totti who put his miserable big tournament form behind him to slot home the penalty which sends Italy through to face either Switzerland or Ukraine.