By Robert Millward
AP Soccer Writer
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany —; In a World Cup increasingly influenced by referees, a questionable penalty sent Italy into the quarterfinals over surprisingly stout Australia with a 1-0 victory Monday.
The Aussies played even with the favored Italians, carrying a scoreless tie into the third minute of added time.
But with 12 seconds left, Lucas Neill was called for fouling Fabio Grosso —; a judgment that first had the Socceroos howling in protest, then shaking their heads in bitter defeat.
Grosso was dribbling a few strides from the goalmouth when Neill slid in front of him. The Italian cut in Neill’s direction and tried to leap clear, but tripped over the defender’s back.
Moments later, Francesco Totti sent his penalty kick high and to the right of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who guessed correctly but couldn’t stretch far enough to stop the ball.
With no time to restart, the Italians started celebrating.
“I don’t know what I am feeling at the moment,” Australia midfielder Tim Cahill said, “but I suppose it’s disbelief.”
Italy plays Friday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Switzerland-Ukraine.