We're in, we're in, we're in, we're in!!!
Croatia 2 - Australia 2
Australia through to the Second Round!
I set the alarm for 4:55am, five mintues before the match was due to start (I knew if I set it earlier, during the pre-match commentary, I'd be tempted to hit the snooze button and sleep through the whole thing; this way, I had to get up). I dragged my doona into the lounge room in time to see the national anthems, then went into the kitchen to get a cup of tea, with the sound on the TV turned down low so I didn't disturb the neighbours. So I was shocked to return and see that Croatia had scored in the second minute! Some profanity followed. I didn't see that one coming. Nonetheless, early days yet and all that, and Australia had some great shots through the first half, until...38 minutes, and we get the penalty to level the score. Woo-hoo! Fists punched in the air. No screaming though (it seems too weird when you're watching on your own). Then, after a few missed chances, it was half-time. More tea and coffee followed; probably not a good idea.
Eleven minutes into the second half. Croatia take a shot at the goal. It should have been an easy save, but Kalac fumbles it and it goes through. "Schwarzer would have saved that" was all I could moan (and why wasn't he playing? Will look it up when I finish this). As Simon Hill, doing the commentary, said "that should have been a textbook save." All I know is, for the next few minutes, "You f**king muppet" was about the kindest thing I said about Kalac.
About this time, I made a bathroom visit (the coffee) and when I return, I realise it's the 70th minute. I felt...heartsunk. Really. I wasn't crying, I just felt my whole body sink. Okay, it wasn't over yet, but Australia had come from behind to beat Japan, come from behind in this game, and I just didn't think the magic could contine. I cursed Kalac (some more) and my heart nearly broke completely when they showed Schwarzer sitting on the bench.
Oh she of little faith. For just as I was looking away, Kewell scored in the 78th minute.
This time my hands stayed in the air for some 20 seconds, then began to shake, followed by the rest of me. It was ON. We had 12 minutes, plus extra time, to keep Croatia from scoring for us to go through. And although it flew by, I never want to experience a time as tense as that again. It was the most extraordinary period of football, which will probably be talked about for months to come, not least because of the bizaare refereeing (one of the Croatian players received 3 yellow cards but stayed on the pitch), but all I wanted was to hear that final whistle. And after a stomach churning few minutes with my nose pressed to the television, including a disallowed goal by Cahill, it came.
In a way, then end of the tension was so great I didn't stand up and cheer. Xander had been loudly demanding breakfast for some time, but I didn't want to move from in front of the TV. Now, I got up to feed him. But as I put his bowl out, I suddenly scooped him up and ran around the kitchen, jiggling him up and down, saying "We're in, baby! We're in!" He made no objection (he knows not to disturb insane people) until finally I put him down and he got his overdue food! Then I returned to the TV, and started to cry.
As the game ended, I opened the curtains on a miserably wet, grey winter morning. But in 20 minutes, the sun had come brilliantly out, and already it's a warmer day today than for quite a few weeks. We play Italy on Tuesday morning (AEST). Can we beat them? Why not?