Lippi slams ref for early sending off

BARI, Italy - Furious Italy coach Marcello Lippi lambasted referee Wolfgang Stark for dismissing striker Giampaolo Pazzini after just four minutes of their 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Ireland on Wednesday. Pazzini led with his arm when he jumped for the ball alongside John O'Shea and although the Irish defender suffered a heavy cut, there was no malice in the Sampdoria striker's actions. "It's not right, not right. 90 minutes with 10 men because of that? At international level? It is not right in any way," Lippi fumed to Rai television. The world champions went ahead after 10 minutes through Vincenzo Iaquinta but Robbie Keane equalised a minute from time to keep Ireland two points behind the Group Eight leaders. "We fought, we closed them down. It's a shame they scored a goal so late, I'm sorry for that but overall I'm sorry for having played a match at this level with 10 against 11 because of the fault of a referee," added Lippi. A raft of controversies have hit Serie A referees in recent years but Lippi said Stark was far worse. "We talk about our referees but look at the foreign ones," he said. Pazzini, making his first Italy start having scored on his debut as a substitute in Saturday's 2-0 win in Montenegro, was stunned. "I would have been shocked even to get a yellow. I think the referee, when he sees it on the replay, will see he has made a huge error," he said. Italian Marco Tardelli, Ireland's assistant manager, pointed out that blood poured from O'Shea's forehead. "There was definitely contact," the 1982 World Cup winner said. "Probably if there wasn't any blood the referee wouldn't have sent him off. I didn't see if Pazzini raised his arm or not. "Sometimes we lack the finishing touch, but it seems to me this side, so young and so proud, can achieve something."