Ottawa Citizen

Draw hands diehard fans a lifeline

But result fails to quell self-doubt on Preston Street

- BY TONY LOFARO

Italy squeezed out a 1-1 tie with Romania in Euro 2008 action yesterday, giving the team a lifeline but disappoint­ing Italian soccer fans hoping for a much-needed victory.

More than 100 soccer fans gathered at Sala San Marco on Preston Street to watch the game on the big screen and many left wondering if the team has enough fight to beat France in its next game. The Netherland­s’ 4-1 victory over France yesterday certainly lifted Italy’s hopes, but Italy must beat its old nemesis in Tuesday’s game to advance.

“Overall, I think Italy could have done better,” Joe Cama, president of the Italian Week Festival, said after the match.

“The only way Italy can be saved is for them to win against France and that will be tough,” he added.

In a sea of blue Italian jerseys, Roxana Puia stood out in the banquet hall, wearing a bright yellow Romanian jersey and cheering on her team. She was hoping for a victory over Italy, but had to settle for a draw.

“My heart is still beating because I wanted Romania to beat the Italians,” said Puia, 24. “It’s about time we win something, though, because we tied in the opening game against France.”

Puia said it felt “strange” being surrounded by dozens of Italian soccer fans, although her boyfriend, Michael Vigliot- ti —who brought her to the banquet hall and sat next to her — was cheering for Italy.

“I felt that somebody was going to throw something at me at any minute because I was the only one cheering after the first (Romanian) goal,” she said.

Vigliotti said his girlfriend was cheering a bit “too loudly” during the game, but he didn’t mind that so much because he was focusing on the Italian team. He said he was disappoint­ed that Italy could only get a 1-1 draw.

“I didn’t think Italy got the breaks today,” said Vigliotti, 22.

He said he’ll bring his girlfriend to the next game, but added that she might have to consider switching jerseys.

“I’m not changing this jersey, it stays,” said Puia.

In Tuesday’s matches, Italy needs to win against France and hope the Netherland­s beats Romania. Two teams from each group advance to the knockout round.

 ?? BRUNO SCHLUMBERG­ER, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN ?? Fans, from left, Frank Pietranton­io, Alfred Karanta and Masoud Yarahmadi revel in the goal that lifted Italy’s hopes at Euro 2008.
BRUNO SCHLUMBERG­ER, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN Fans, from left, Frank Pietranton­io, Alfred Karanta and Masoud Yarahmadi revel in the goal that lifted Italy’s hopes at Euro 2008.
 ?? BRUNO SCHLUMBERG­ER, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN ?? Roxana Puia risks the wrath of those around her by cheering for a Romanian goal against Italy at Sala San Marco on Preston Street.
BRUNO SCHLUMBERG­ER, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN Roxana Puia risks the wrath of those around her by cheering for a Romanian goal against Italy at Sala San Marco on Preston Street.

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