Holland Gives Ruud Awakening To Italy: First Person Account

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It was a night to remember for the Dutch and neutral football fans, and a nightmare Italian supporters will hope to soon forget. For those of us who were there at the stadium, myself included, it was by far the most entertaining match of the tournament and an incredible experience.Of course, the topic that everyone is talking about is the controversial goal by Ruud van Nistelrooy. Sitting fifteen rows back from the touchline directly behind the assistant referee who deemed the goal to be onside, the whole incident unfolded in front of my eyes. To be fair, the Dutch attack happened so quickly and the ball moved with such speed that it was difficult to make the quick second decision whether the goal was offside or not.My first inclination was that the goal should have been deemed offside, but full credit should be given to the assistant referee for noticing that Panucci kept van Nistelrooy onside.The moment that the ball went into the net I leaped out of my seat but kept my eyes firmly affixed on the assistant referee convinced that he was going to raise his flag. But he kept it down and the referee raced back to the halfway line and the goal stood.The immediate reaction from the Italian fans who were directly behind the goal where van Nistelrooy scored was outrage. The Italians fans whistled at the referee. Then a minute later, the big screen TVs situated throughout the stadium showed a replay of the goal from a couple of different camera angles, which seemed to confirm in the eyes of the Italian fans the injustice their team had just experienced. The whistles and boos became louder, but the damage had been done.Interestingly at half time, the highlights of the first half were shown on the TVs inside the stadium again. But this time, the producers only showed one camera angle for the goal instead of several. Perhaps they didn’t want to infuriate the Italian supporters any more than they had already done.After the match was over and I sat on the train, I chatted with EPL Talk reader Oleg Zhovnir who joined me for the game. My impression was that I wasn’t so sure, as everyone else had been, that the goal was offside. I mentioned that I’d love to see the TV replay again to take a closer view. It was only later that night after going online did I read that the assistant referee had, in fact, made the correct decision.Again, full credit to the referee and assistant referee for making the correct decision under pressure. Let’s hope that the level of officiating remains as good as it has been thus far in the tournament.Stay tuned to EPL Talk over the next 12-24 hours for more coverage, photos and audio from EPL Talk’s trip to Euro 2008.

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