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FIFA World Cup 2006 Special Edition
27 June, 2006.
FIFA World Cup 2006, round of 16, match 53: Italy 1-0 Australia.
Only the second time Australia qualified for the World Cup, and the first time we made it into the second round. Getting that far was a long, hard road, with a dramatic qualifying playoff against Uruguay 7 months earlier, then an astounding 3-1 comeback victory over Japan in the first Cup match, and a hard fought 2-2 draw against Croatia to make the second round. There we met Italy, an undeniable power in world football.
Australia played well for 92 minutes, holding the Italians scoreless and threatening to take the lead several times. But in the final minute of injury time, the referee saw fit to award Italy a penalty. With the last kick of the game, Francesco Totti drove the penalty shot home into the top left corner of the goal.
A top 16 finish was better than many realistically believed was possible for Australia, but losing always hurts.
Charles M. Schulz felt a similar feeling when his beloved San Francisco Giants lost the baseball World Series in 1962 due to Yankee second baseman Bobbie Richardson snatching a hard line drive by Giants player Willie McCovey out of the air. He drew a classic Peanuts strip in which Charlie Brown and Linus sit morose and silent for three panels. Charlie Brown breaks the glumness in the final panel be yelling, "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?!"
I've discussed this strip before in a different context. This time it's a direct tribute.