Euro 2012 quarter-final: England lose to Italy on penalties
Combining the Euros and the World Cups since 1990, yesterday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final match at the Kiev Olympic Stadium was the sixth occasion that an English side exited a major tournament on penalties after losing to Italy 4-2 following a goalless score-line at the end of extra time.
Mario Balotelli and Steven Gerrard registered one goal each before Montolivo dragged the ball wide of the post. Then as Rooney put England 2-1 ahead, Pirlo made sure Italy didn't have to do a catch-up job. What followed was two misses by Ashley Young and Ashley Cole that broke millions of English hearts and put the onus back on Roy Hodgson to regroup the unit ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
While Cesare Prandelli’s men were the clear pre-match favourites to meet Germany in the second semi-final on June 28 at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Steven Gerrard and company made the task easier for them by putting up a dismal show, never quite looking like a team that deserved to win. The Azzurri, on the other hand, tamed the Three Lions right at the start when Daniele De Rossi’s swirling left-footer beat Hart, but only to find the woodwork.
Despite Glen Johnson's early attempt to score and England settling down to take charge in the midfield, the Italians continued to create chances more often than their English counterparts. Italy's 20 attempts on target against England's four summed up the day for Hodgson's men who, as captain Gerrard said, will now “go home with heartbreak”.