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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Italy got a violent 0-0 draw with the USA

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Italy was expected to get the victory after making a great game against Ghana, but this time it was different. Alberto Gilardino gave them the lead with a diving header, but an own goal by Cristian Zaccardo brought the United States back on level terms.

Amazingly, this draw left all four teams in the group in the mix for the knockout stages after Ghana defeated the Czech Republic 2-0 in Cologne.

American striker Eddie Johnson had caused a rumpus earlier in the week by comparing the World Cup to war. The clash wasn't warfare, but this gripping contest was everything but friendly.

According to the referee, Italy had Daniele De Rossi sent off in the 28th minute for elbowing Brian McBride and American Pablo Mastroeni shortly followed him down the tunnel for clattering into Andrea Pirlo.

What's more, the American team was reduced to nine men a minute after halftime when Eddie Pope picked up his second yellow card. It was only the fourth time in the history of the tournament that three players had been sent off in the same game.

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller pulled off two excellent saves to deny Italy substitute Alessandro Del Piero in the closing stages as the Americans bravely dug in to snatch a point.

It's important to say that Italy now have four points, followed by the Czech Republic and Ghana both on three and the US on one. However, Italy face the Czech Republic in Hamburg on Thursday, while the Americans take on Ghana in Nuremberg. The winners will advance to the second stage.

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