Monday, June 9, 2008
Italy boss Roberto Donadoni refused to get drawn into a row about Ruud van Nistelrooy's opener in his side's 3-0 defeat by Netherlands at Euro 2008.
Van Nistelrooy appeared to be clearly offside as he diverted Wesley Sneider's long range shot in from six yards.
"I accept it," said Donadoni. "The referee made a mistake. He's human."
But, as Italy's Christian Panucci had been injured moments earlier and was off the pitch, an Austrian referee official insisted the goal was legal.
Chairman of Austria's refereeing commission Gerhard Kapl backed the decision by Swedish referee Peter Frojdfeldt and said it was "100% correct, without any doubt".
Kapl pointed out that article 11.4.1. of the refereeing code stipulated that "an opposing player cannot be offside when one of the last two defenders has left the field of play".
He explained the rule was brought in to stop players deliberately stepping off the field of play to make an opponent offside.
But the Azzurri would argue that Panucci was off the field because he had been caught by keeper Gianluigi Buffon as he tried to meet a cross just before the goal.
Van Nistelrooy looked at the linesman before reeling off to celebrate after the goal stood, while Netherlands team-mate Dirk Kuyt said he thought the goal was offside.
The Dutch went on to secure a crucial win in which Italy's defence looked anything but the watertight unit the national team has built its reputation on.
"We had an off-day," said Donadoni. "The game started badly and finished terribly for us.
"Our intention was not to start this tournament and concede a 3-0 defeat.
"I was not surprised by Holland's display, they played as we expected them to play.
"The first goal complicated our lives and I thought we were very naive in the second goal. We reacted well in the second half and despite having chances, it was not to be."
Italy captain and centre-back Fabio Cannavaro had been ruled out of the tournament in the build-up to Euro 2008 and his absence proved pivotal.
"It's real tough to play without your captain. We missed him a great deal, but we're going to have to do better," said second-half substitute Fabio Grosso.
Italy now face Romania on 13 June and France four days later as they bid to qualify what has been dubbed the group of death.
Donandoni added: "We have to be optimistic and forget about this game.
"We need to bounce back in our next game against Romania, an encounter which has now become crucial for us.
"We will learn from our mistakes and make sure we don't repeat them."