Commentator Huang Jianxiang changed his normally dour manner and began excitedly shouting during the final minutes of Monday's match.

When Italy's Fabio Grosso drew a penalty in the dying seconds of the match Huang exploded.

"Penalty! Penalty! Penalty!" he screeched.

"Grosso made it! He made it! Don't give Australia any chance. Grosso alone represents the long and deep tradition of Italian soccer. He is not alone!”

Huang followed up his shrewd analysis with "Long live Italy" and "I don't like Australia."

His outburst became an instant object of derision as the commentary became available at various sites on the internet.

On Tuesday, a far more composed Huang issued an apology.
"In the last minutes of the Italy v Australia game last night, I added too much personal emotion to my comments," he said in the apology, posted on CCTV's Web site.

"What I said led to the viewers' displeasure, and they have expressed their views and criticisms, and I sincerely apologise."

It was not the first episode of its kind.

The government's Xinhua News Agency said that in 2002, CCTV hostess Sheng Bin stunned an audience of millions as she openly wept after Argentina's early exit.