Admit it people. At the first sight of Giampaolo Pazzini’s 3rd minute red card, most of you immediately connected your minds to World Cup 2006. That bloody (litterally) game vs. USA, where Brian McBride was the unfortunate recipient of Daniele De Rossi’s elbow fury. After that incident DDR apologized for his behaviour, immensely regretting that moment of craziness which nearly terminated his World Cup adventure right then and there.
In this case however, Pazzini has absolutely nothing to apologize for. He went for a high ball, extended his arm to balance himself, and accidentally hit John O’Shea in the temple -a very sensitive area with high capillary concentration. Translated: lots of blood flow in that region, the same blood which induced German referee Wolfgang Stark to take out the red card of his pocket and unjustifiably upset 87 minutes of World Cup qualifying football. In the words of Marcello Lippi: “We’re always complaining about referees in Serie A, but look at the foreign ones. We were down to 10 men for 90 minutes because of an interpretation of violence that we can all judge with our own eyes.”
After such an early incident, it almost makes the match retelling trivial by comparison. Italy could have easily panicked, folded under the pressure, given in psychologically. They did not. They held their heads high, fought back, and even scored the first goal through Vincenzo Iaquinta. A victory was the right compensation for Pazzini’s injustice. Buffon & the Italian fort held on. Until the 88th minute, when Ireland‘s Robbie Keane decided to spoil the party.