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Totti Saves it for Italy
The Australian, June 27th, 2006 3:29PM

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Gianluigi Buffon, Italy's excellent goalkeeper, admitted that he couldn't watch as Francesco Totti stepped up to take Italy's last-minute penalty against Australia. "You see the play from the back and sometimes it's a tragedy and it takes you back to (South) Korea and you think, 'not again'." But it was Totti who with ice in his veins thumped it calmly into the back of the net, setting the Italians up with a very agreeable quarterfinal clash with the Ukraine. It was good to see Totti, an amazing player for those who've had the privilege of seeing him play in-form for Roma, step up and convert the spot-kick, because the Italian playmaker has looked a step or two short of full fitness since being rushed back from injury. Instead of Totti Coach Marcelo Lippi chose to start with Alessandro Del-Piero, who doesn't even start for his club team Juventus, because Totti was suffering from "tiredness." A curious decision, The Australian points out, as "even Italy's official media guide says that they are an ordinary team when Totti-less." That said the Australians fought doggedly as the "tactically astute" Aussie Coach Hiddink was able to "get the maximum from some mediocre players," frustrating Italy with a tight 3-3-3-1 formation. He nearly spoiled things again for the Italians, who were a man down against Hiddink for the second time in successive World Cups.

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