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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 26, 2006

Hiddink upset at nature of Socceroos exit

Australia coach Guus Hiddink has launched a bitter attack on Italy after seeing his dreams of leading the Socceroos into the last eight of the World Cup killed off by Francesco Totti's penalty in the last minute of injury time.

Totti's successful conversion, after Blackburn defender Lucas Neill had brought down Italy defender Fabio Grosso inside the area, gave the Azzurri a 1-0 win - despite Marcello Lippi's team playing the last 40 minutes with 10 men following the sending-off of defender Marco Materazzi in the 50th minute.

However Hiddink, who was aiming to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the third successive occasion with three different nations after leading his native Holland to the last four in 1998 and South Korea in 2002, said extra time was the least the Aussies deserved out of a match in which he felt they had been the better side.

'Even when Materazzi was on the park we controlled parts of the game and then when we were sent off, we assumed full control,' he said.

'Then we fully dominated against a team that is much more highly ranked than us, before we got caught out in the last minute and if you see the replay there is no doubt it wasn't a penalty.'

In a game of few chances, Hiddink said his team at least tried to play attacking, creative football - in stark contrast to the Italians.

'Italy just tried to play on the counter-attack and we tried to play another style, a style that is more attractive for the spectators to see but that (counter-attacking) is their style,' he said.

'The Italians wanted to play defensively, they love to play with a wall (across the back) - they don't think about attractive football, they just think about the result.'

However while Hiddink felt his team was more deserving of a place in the quarter-finals than Italy, he said his team also had themselves to blame for their downfall through their failure to make more of their control of the game.

Hiddink felt Australia tried to attack too much down the centre of the park and did not have enough width to their game, which he said the Socceroos would have to learn if they were to continue to improve on the enormous gains they have made at this tournament.

'Our crosses weren't good enough in the ultimate phase and as a consequence we didn't score any goals,' he said.

'We had to use the wings more and the move the ball more laterally.'

The Socceroos were not helped in that regard by the loss of Liverpool winger Harry Kewell, the man whose late goal against Croatia got Australia to the group stages of the World Cup for the first time.

Hiddink revealed after the game that the injury-prone Kewell, who came into this tournament lacking fitness after injuring his groin in the FA Cup final while playing for Liverpool, had again succumbed to injury during the Croatia match.

This time the problem is to his ankle, which resulted in Kewell watching the clash against Italy on crutches from the bench.