World champions Italy kept their hopes alive with a fighting 1-1 draw against Romania in a nervy encounter in yesterday while anger still raged in Poland over a disputed penalty decision 24 hours earlier.

The Italians had keeper Gianluigi Buffon to thank for maintaining a still slim chance of making the quarter-finals in the June 7-29 tournament in Switzerland and Austria thanks to his late penalty save.

Much will probably depend on their final group match with the team they beat in the World Cup final, France, next Tuesday but whatever the permutations, the Italians know their hopes of advancing are hanging by a thread.

Juventus goalkeeper Buffon pulled off a stunning save to keep out former team mate Adrian Mutu's penalty, leaping to his left and palming the ball on to his foot and away from goal.

Mutu had earlier given the Romanians a shock lead when he pounced on a misjudged header from Gianluca Zambrotta, also a former Juventus team mate, and hammered the ball past Buffon.

Defender Christina Panucci equalised shortly after, prodding the ball in from Giorgio Chiellini's downward header.

The Netherlands, who humiliated Italy 3-0 in their opening match, who played later on yesterday. The World Cup runners-up drew 0-0 with Romania in their first game.

Poland was in a state of national apoplexy on Friday as policymakers and media slammed the penalty decision that gave Austria an injury-time equaliser (1-1) in their on Thursday.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he felt like he wanted to kill English referee Howard Webb, who pointed to the spot after ruling that Mariusz Lewandowski pulled Sebastian Proedl's shirt and brought him down.

"As the prime minister I have to be balanced and collected," keen soccer fan Mr Tusk told reporters.

"But last night I was speaking very differently about the whole thing, I wanted to kill.

"Referees make mistakes and this was an obvious error that harmed us all."

European governing body UEFA defended the verdict as absolutely correct, however, and a similar decision was taken by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo in awarding yesterday's penalty against Italy which Buffon saved.

"We don't think it's controversial that when a player is pulled down by the shirt with both hands a penalty is given, there is nothing controversial about that," director of communications William Gaillard told a news conference.

Anger was also in evidence among stall-holders trying to sell their wares at special fan areas set up in Austria and Switzerland, hit by poor weather and a lack of customers.

Klagenfurt, the smallest of the eight host cities in Austria and Switzerland, has been forced to halve rental rates for disappointed stallholders who fear huge losses.

Traders at the fan village camping facility in Geneva, who had to pay a fee of 35,000 swiss francs for the right to set up a stall, threatened to strike because of the lack of customers and said they felt cheated by organisers.

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