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Ref gets the blame as Italy teeter on the brink at Euro08

SoccerNews in European Championships, Serie A 14 Jun 2008

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Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has hit out at Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after a 1-1 draw with Romania left his side on the brink of elimination from Euro 2008.

A 1-1 draw left the Italians bottom of group C and no longer masters of their own destiny. Even if they beat France in their final match, the world champions will be going home early if Romania beat already-qualified Holland in their final match.

On Friday night's evidence that is a distinct possibility, particularly as the Dutch, already certain of winning group C after thrashing France 4-1, are certain to rest key players.

Only Gianluigi Buffon's late penalty save from Adrian Mutu prevented the Italians from going down to defeat against a spirited Romanian side that took four points out of six against the Dutch in qualifying for the finals.

The scale of the disarray in the Italian camp was underlined by the fact that Donadoni felt the need to make five changes from the side that had lost 3-0 to Holland in their opening match.

But the head coach nevertheless refused to criticise his players over their failure to get the victory they needed, preferring instead to launch a scarcely-justified broadside against the Norwegian officials that, as a good example of creating a distraction from reality, suggested he might have a future as a political spin doctor.

“I am not used to discussing referee's performance in detail but this was not his finest day,” Donadoni said in post-match comments that were distinctly measured in comparison to the tirade he unleashed to more receptive audiences on Italian television.

Despite admitting he had not seen the incident clearly, Donadoni suggested Ovrebo had made a “gross” error in chalking off a Luca Toni effort for offside in first-half stoppage time.

The Italian coach may also have been unhappy when Ovrebo awarded Romania a late penalty when Christian Panucci and Adrian Mutu tussled for a cross.

But as the resulting spot-kick was saved, that decision did not affect the outcome of the match.

The under-pressure Italian coach added: “We knew Romania would be a team to be reckoned with and we suffered at times but I'm pleased with our performance.

“We were sorry for hurting so many Italian fans after the first game (a 3-0 defeat by Holland) and we are sorry in a way tonight because we did not get the three points we wanted to take.

“But I think Italy played better than Romania. They defended well but we created more chances and I think the boys deserve to be praised for that.”

The Italians must now prepare for a rematch of the 2006 World Cup final against France knowing that both sides could easily be eliminated, regardless of the outcome.

“It is a key game and the beginning of that game is going to be really important,” Donadoni said. “We have to prepare properly. We have three days and we will be able to use the adrenalin that has been built up. It is going to be decisive for our future, we know that.”

Romanian coach Victor Piturca voiced his delight over the result, although the celebrations were tempered by a serious injury to midfielder Mirel Radoi, who faces eye surgery after being stretchered off after a clash of heads with team-mate Razvan Rat.

The Romanians will also be without key defender Dorin Goian for the match with the Dutch after he needlessly picked up a second card for throwing the ball up in the air to waste time after conceding a free-kick.

Piturca said: “I think we gained a point rather than dropped two. We controlled the match and were in the lead and had the penalty but I think we should be satisfied.

“We could say Italy was lucky of course. When you have a penalty and the player does not manage to score obviously that is a lucky thing for Italy.”

Piturca was less concerned by Mutu's penalty miss, however, than by the poor defending of a corner which resulted in his side conceding an equaliser to Christian Panucci within a minute of Mutu having given them the lead, ten minutes into the second half.

“Penalties have been missed on many occasions in so many tournaments. It is nothing new. I am more upset by the way they managed to score against us,” Piturca said.

“I think maybe Mutu was influenced by the fact Buffon is one of world's great goalkeepers but actually he did not miss — Buffon saved it.”

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Elfadil

I personally think that Donadoni has lost his mind. He can not blame a ref if his squad hasn’t played there best. I think all he needs to do his have his team less reliant on Toni, Totti, and Maldini, and more reliant on themselves. Each player on the team was good enough to make the national team, and win the Fifa World Cup and qualify for the UEFA cup, so why won’t they be good enough to score goals and beat Rominia. The french did not blame the ref when the lost against them, so why should the complain… Read more »

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