Quarter-Final
England 0-0 Italy (AET)
(Italy win 4-2 on penalties)

 

 

Alessandro Diamanti tucks the ball into the bottom corner, as Hart dives the wrong way, to send England packing at the quarter-final stage

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Olympic Stadium, Kiev 


A sombre England suffered more penalty shoot-out agony as a wasteful Italy progressed to the semi-finals after a goalless draw in a nail-biting affair.

During two hours of pulsating drama, the Italians had a number of opportunities to finish the match off but couldn't find the elusive goal as an absorbing contest went the full distance with Alessandro Diamanti tucking away the crucial spotkick while Ashley Young and Ashley Cole failed to convert for the Three Lions who crashed out at the quarter-final stages of another major international tournament. Italy prevail to the Euro 2012 last four against Germany next Thursday in Warsaw.

The Three Lions, meeting Italy for the first time in ten years, named an unchanged line-up for the game from the 1-0 victory over Ukraine in their final group game with Danny Welbeck retained in attack ahead of Andy Carroll while Theo Walcott was also left on the bench with James Milner chosen in the wide right midfield berth.

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, who remains undefeated in competitive matches in charge, made three changes from their first win in the last six games- a 2-0 victory over Republic of Ireland- with Antonio Di Natale and Thiago Motta replaced by Mario Balotelli and Ricardo Montolivo while Leonardo Bonucci came in for injured Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini as the Azzuri went for a more conventional flat back four and midfield diamond in a 4-1-3-2 setup.

With the final a week away in Kiev, an extra 5000 England fans commuted to the Ukranian capital in the hope of seeing their nation progress although they started nervy in the first few minutes with a couple of minor mistakes while they were let off when Claudio Marchisio's pullback picked out Daniele De Rossi thirty yards from goal who cut across his effort which span awkwardly away from goal before hitting the post. Joe Hart scrambled across his goalline and was thankful to his woodwork.

While just a couple of minutes later, Glen Johnson showed his attacking instincts when getting forward with James Milner's ground-level cross taking one or two fortutious ricochets into the path of the Liverpool full-back who dug out a shot which was clutched well by Gianluigi Buffon and the 34-year old managed to collect the ball at the second attempt with Rooney closing in. The opening exchanges followed a manic pattern but England settle themselves down quickly beginning to press and probe.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

The two sides have previously met in one European Championship finals match- Italy won 1-0 in the group stages in Turin back in 1980.

 

Roy Hodgson's men enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure in the final third as Scott Parker slashed the ball wide from far range after a two-fisted punch from Buffon landed straight to his feet. This was a promising spell as the Three Lions made affirmative inroads with the Italians looking susceptible in defence with the absence of centre-half Giorgio Chiellini hitting them hard. At the other end, Antonio Cassano, who had heart surgery last October, shot into orbit on 22 minutes from the edge of the box.

There was a nice ebb and flow to the match as two sides with more accustomed defensive approaches sought to attack one another although England resorted to the dangerous tactic of playing the offside trap which the menacing and enigmatic Mario Balotelli almost exploited on numerous occasions. Firstly, a slight defensive crack occurred between the England centre-backs Terry and Lescott with the Italy number nine in on goal after a deft first touch although he was denied a lob over Hart by the recovery of the Chelsea captain.

Italy became more comfortable in possession with the left hand side a useful facet with the offensive forays of Palermo's Fernando Balzaretti. Montolivo delivered a superb round-the-corner pass to the feet of Balotelli around the outside of the defender whose snapshot was straight at his Manchester City counterpart. England's most presentable opportunity in the first period fell to Welbeck who glided a sidefooted finish over after a terrific interchange with his strike partner Rooney.

It was an enthralling first 45 minutes in a finely balanced game and Balotelli could have given the Italians the lead five minutes before the interval when Juventus maestro Pirlo bent the ball around Ashley Cole to the back post with Cassano nodding back into the danger zone where Balotelli was lurking with intent but stabbed over the bar via the slightest of touches from John Terry. AC Milan's Cassano had an effort of his own which Hart found too hot to handle although he was able to gather in the loose ball.

The second half picked up from where the first half ended with Italy going forward and they wasted a guilt-edged chance to lift the spirits of their supporters who were wondering whether the breakthrough would ever come as De Rossi chanced his arm from twenty-five yards with a direct effort which Hart kept out before reacting to block the follow-up from Balotelli with Ricardo Montolivo steering over the third bite of the cherry whilst under immense pressure from Glen Johnson.

Andrea Pirlo, released by AC Milan last summer, became more effective as the 33-year old began to pull the strings when given room to manouvre as the England performance didn't reach the standards of the first half as their attacking advances completely faded. England's failure to keep the ball was their achilles heel once more thus also failing to concoct a winning formula within the regulation ninety minutes. Gerrard floated a free kick into the box on 77 minutes which eluded the forehead of Rooney whilst at the opposite end, substitute Diamanti, who spent a year on loan at West Ham recently, tried a crisp shot which brought a low save out of Hart as the Italians were on top.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

England also played their Euro 2004 quarter-final loss to Portugal in Lisbon on 24th June eight years ago.

 

More unbelievable openings were going astray for the Italians as extra-time loomed with the urgency levels increasing. Antonio Nocerino squandered as he couldn't adjust his feet quickly enough as the ball ended up in his path with Johnson able to courageously block. Wayne Rooney acrobatically hit an overhead kick over the crossbar late on as the match went to an extra half hour. Hodgson had considerable food for thought with his players acromoniously exhausted which begged the question of whether England would have enough fuel left in the tank.

There were a number of half-hearted shouts for a penalty when England delivered setpieces into the box as John Terry saw his shirt tugged more than once in the eyeline of the additional assistant referee although the Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca didn't see any wrongdoing. Although the Italians were laying siege to the England goal, they couldn't score nevertheless it wasn't for the want of trying.

England- playing the Azzuri for the first time in a competitive fixture- were implementing a hang-on operation in a tentative extra time period with the Italians still committing men forward as Balotelli made room for a shot but again couldn't get the beating of Hart who made a routine stop, moreover Diamanti, making only a fourth cap for Prandelli's side, clipped the post as a cross-cum-shot evaded everybody inside the box. With the players draining energy, England were showing their resolve when it mattered as a penalty shoot-out was on the cards. There was still time for Diamanti to fire wide from Balzaretti's pass into feet while the Azzuri had the ball in the net through Nocerino's header a couple of yards out however it was correctly ruled out for offside.

The joy was cut short for the Italy faithful but not for long as England became the latest victims of the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Balotelli stepped up first to stroke the ball into the corner after cleverly avoiding eye-contact with his club team-mate Hart while Gerrard cancelled it out with a similar penalty into the same bottom left hand corner. 

Millions watching in England breathed a huge sigh of relief when Ricardo Montolivo dragged wide the Italians' second spotkick. Rooney, who netted from nine out of twelve penalties for Manchester United last season, cracked home with confidence to put England ahead although it was a shoot-out advantage which was soon wiped out when Pirlo irrestistibly chipped home before Rooney's Old Trafford compatriot Ashley Young smacked the crossbar.

AC Milan's Nocerino sent Hart the wrong way to leave the Italians at match-point and England were in deep trouble when Ashley Cole, on his 98th cap for the country, tamely struck to Buffon's left in the same direction as the twelve-yard kick he took in last month's Champions League final however this time found the Juventus custodian in his way. 

It was left to Bologna's Diamanti, a 2009-10 member of the Hammers squad, to calmly roll the ball home to send Italy through whilst knocking the Three Lions out of a tournament which they have embraced with great spirit and resilience. Unfortunately, it was a familiar feeling for England followers as their record and renowned reputation of winning one of six previous penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments went before them as they cruelly bowed out.

 

 


EURO 2012 ANALYSIS:  England 0-0 Italy
Adam Higgins-  Chief Football Editor reporting in Kiev


"It's just same old England- you cannot have a stress-free experience when watching England especially when they are playing in the quarter-finals of a major tournament. Euro 2012 hadn't had a goalless draw before this game so this had to be the first one- it was a tight game and difficult to predict beforehand but the Italians, after the first twenty minutes, dominated completely. They had a host of chances and should have put the game to bed by the time a penalty shoot-out came along. Italy deserved to go through for their ultimate domination and Pirlo produced one of the best individual displays that I have ever seen when watching football. England and penalties do not mix- the pressure got to them, there was tiredness in the team and some of the lads weren't upto it. It is very disappointing to see the country knocked out after making it out of the group stages and avoiding the best nation in the world, everyone has raised their expectations of the team and they couldn't handle the pressure. Roy deserves tremendous credit for his immediate work with the team and when some players come back into the fold such as Walker and Wilshere, they will be able to mount qualification for the World Cup."

 

 

 

 

Sunday 24th June                   UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                Quarter-Final                Olympic Stadium, Kiev


England 0-0 Italy          AET                                        KO 7:45pm                     Live on BBC1/HD                 (HT 0-0)

(Italy win 4-2 on penalties)

 

Mario Balotelli (Italy)  scored 1-0
Steven Gerrard (England)  scored 1-1
Ricardo Montolivo (Italy)  missed 1-1
Wayne Rooney (England)  scored 2-1
Andrea Pirlo (Italy)  scored 2-2
Ashley Young (England)  missed 2-2
Antonio Nocerino (Italy)  scored 3-2
Ashley Cole (England)  missed 3-2
Alessandro Diamanti (Italy)  scored 4-2



 

England:

(4-4-1-1)


1 Joe Hart-  6.5/10  Made some decent saves although his kicking abilities were not as good as normal while he didn't become the hero many expected he would in the shoot-out. Safe handling though in general throughout.

2 Glen Johnson-  7/10  Had a decent opening early on which he could have done better with while he lost his footing on more than one occasion in the first half. Made some interceptions and got forward a lot.

6 John Terry-  7.5/10  Not afraid to get his way infront of the ball when Italy are shooting with some sound interventions and read the play well. The only major concern would be his attempts to work the offside trap which Balotelli was successful in avoiding.

15 Joleon Lescott-  7/10  Showed that he was more than capable of handling his former Manchester City colleague Balotelli although began to become a little stirred by his movement when he tried to spring the offside trap in the second half.

3 Ashley Cole-  7/10  Had a fairly solid match as he always seems to do, always gets the essentials right and uses all his experience to know his position and be aware of who is around him and went to stick and twist in terms of going forward. Missed his spotkick.

16 James Milner-  5/10  Looked good down right side for England offering crosses for the two front men and put in another good shift with his hard work on the flank. Substituted again after an hour. Pulled off one great piece of play which deserved better.

4 Steven Gerrard (C)-  6/10  Helped out the defence when he needed to and had a fairly busy game in both boxes however he wasn't as influential as he was in the group stages. Confidently scored England's first penalty in the shoot-out.

17 Scott Parker-  6/10  Didn't reach the levels of performance we have seen in previous games for club and country- couldn't get close to Pirlo while he lost the ball several times and struggled to break up the Italy attacks to get England motoring forward.

11 Ashley Young-  4.5/10  Gave the ball away far too cheaply and never looked to take on his full-back or use his pace- failed to deliver in another big game and the tournament overall has been a major disappointment. Thumped his penalty against the bar.

10 Wayne Rooney-  6/10  Not heavily involved in first half but still showed glimpses of his world class ability with a couple of extravagant touches. Looked tired towards end and didn't have a lot to work from.

22 Danny Welbeck-  6.5/10  Won headers fairly comfortable against the centre-backs but didn't do a lot with them- was a useful tool in defence more than going forward. Missed one chance and was later brought off with Andy Carroll on to replace him.

 

 

Substitutes bench:- 
13 Green (GK), 23 Butland, 5 Kelly, 14 Jones, 18 Jagielka, 12 Baines, 8 Henderson, 7 Walcott, 19 Downing, 20 Oxlade-Chamberlain, 9 Carroll, 21 Defoe.

 

Subs used:

Carroll (for Welbeck-  60 mins)-  3.5/10  Came on and looked to have a positive effect- tried to compete aerially for the ball and prove his worth but didn't have much joy.

Walcott (for Milner-  60 mins)-  3/10  Couldn't use his pace or attacking threat at any point- didn't make the difference or bring anything to England. Never had a chance to shine.

Henderson (for Parker-  94 mins)-  2/10  Replaced the tiring legs of Parker and his young legs and freshness was important in extra-time in an attempt to keep the midfield compact, in shape and in position.

 

Booked:      None

 

Sent-off:      None

 

 

 

Italy:

(4-1-3-2)


1 Gianluca Buffon (C)-  8/10  A relatively quiet evening for the Juventus man while he saved just one of the spot-kicks in the shoot-out from Ashley Cole. Is a great commanding presence which showed when using his frame to put off Glen Johnson.

7 Ignazio Abate-  7.5/10  Got forward more in the second half making some surging runs and getting some decent crosses. His defensive side was never really tested to the maximum with Ashley Young non-existent- therefore was never afraid to travel across the halfway line.

15 Andrea Barzagli-  6.5/10  Picked up a soft yellow card but played his part in keeping the back door shut for the Italians and wasn't really troubled by Andy Carroll's physical prowess when he was introduced.

19 Leonardo Bonucci-  8/10  Tall and powerful which was a good advantage to have against an opponent with similar attributes- stopped all of England's set-piece play and was a good presence at the back showing he wasn't afraid or fearful.

6 Federico Balzaretti-  7.5/10  The Palermo full-back was used as an attacking weapon to bomb forward down the left flank, get some crosses into the box however they were not up to scratch.

21 Andrea Pirlo-  10/10  Smartly kept hold of possession when Italy had the ball with his neat and his influence grew on the game- the veteran midfield maestro offered himself a lot and received the ball. Sprayed passes around for fun and was allowed to. A masterclass and by far the man of the match.

8 Claudio Marchisio-  8/10   Attempted a number of cross-field passes to try to switch the play to left-back Balzaretti and did manage to stay strong and compact in the middle of the park in general.

16 Daniele De Rossi-  8/10  Hit the post in the third minute but couldn't find the target in the second half with a great close range chance. The Roma midfielder covered a lot of ground.  

18 Ricardo Montolivo-  8.5/10  Knocked the ball around with confidence and got a little extra space in the engine room because of the way Pirlo was domineering. Although, his worst moment was shooting wide in the penalty shoot-out.

10 Antonio Cassano-  8/10  Moved around well and looked to cause problems at every opportunity but just didn't have that piece of real quality to make the breakthrough but he had a lot to give in the game.

9 Mario Balotelli-  8.5/10  Didn't really justify his selection, tried to take on Lescott down the sides of the defence but didn't have much joy against his Manchester City team-mate who jockeyed him well.

Substitutes bench:-
12 Sirigu (GK), 14 De Sanctis (GK), 2 Maggio, 3 Chiellini, 4 Ogbonna, 5 Thiago Motta, 13 Giaccherini, 22 Diamanti, 23 Nocerino, 11 Di Natale, 17 Borini, 20 Giovinco.

 

Subs used:

Diamanti (for Cassano-  78 mins)-  5/10  Had a great impact when coming on despite being a bit-part player so far for his country- showed that he can become a regular in the World Cup qualifiers. Scored penalty and hit the post in extra-time.

Nocerino (for De Rossi-  79 mins)-  2.5/10  Had a decent chance when coming on which Johnson had to get in the way of and managed to score his penalty in the shoot-out.

Maggio (for Abate-  90+1 mins)-  1.5/10  Added some fresh legs to the cause for the Italians which was required. Was harshly booked for a tap of Young's ankle.

 

Booked:       Barzagli (82), Maggio (93)

 

Sent-off:       None

 

 

My Man of the Match:    Andrea Pirlo (Italy)- Rating 10/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Ashley Young (England)- Rating 4.5/10

 

 

Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)- 7.5/10
Attendance: 64,246

 

 

Match Facts:


Possession: England- 37%                  Italy- 63%

Shots at goal: England- 8                    Italy- 31

Shots on target: England- 4                   Italy- 18

Shots off target: England- 4                   Italy- 13

Corners: England- 3                       Italy- 7

Fouls: England- 15                       Italy- 10

Offsides: England- 1                      Italy- 2

Assists: England- 0 (None)                Italy- 0 (None)

 

 

 

 

MANAGERS COMMENTS & Reaction:


England head coach Roy Hodgson:  "We've done well to get through the tournament without [Wayne] Rooney and without losing a match in normal time. We wanted it so badly and when your dreams are shattered, you can't put too positive a spin on it, but I suppose we'll look back positively on the way we've performed here. The statistics that interest me are the ones showing how much possession you've had in the final third and the number of times teams get behind you in the final third. What can possibly prepare you for those sorts of situations? We practised, we talked about it, we did all the things we could possibly do from a professional point of view, but it still doesn't change the fact that [Andrea] Pirlo has the infernal confidence to do a 'Panenka' chip over the goalkeeper. Our players were desperately trying to do the penalties that we'd practised and unfortunately it didn't come off."


Click here for full thoughts of Three Lions boss Hodgson after match



Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli:  "There are lots of ways to win but I feel that we are obliged to take this route because football is constantly in a state of evolution and, at the moment, the difference is being made by those sides who have the courage to push their defensive line high and are brave enough to keep taking the game to the opposition for 90 minutes. Mario did really well as a target man. He had five or six chances he would have preferred to have converted, but the fact he got into those positions pleased me and meant he was on his game. Once you have belief and know what you are doing then you have no fear, and when you are fearless you can play very well. We have a side of players who are growing in awareness from game to game and have the desire to measure themselves against the biggest sides in the game, by playing football. The most important factor that came out of the England match was that we showed we had the courage to keep playing the right way. We are quite a bit short because we only have very few days of recovery time. We need to put out a side that's athletically fit, because we will have to fight against Germany. There is no such thing as an invincible side. Spain and Germany are truly very good, but we just need to stick to our task, and we must be meticulously prepared. Germany has that sense of knowing what they need to do. They are also physically strong and have players who have tasted international success at club level, so they are a side with the ingredients to go all the way. But we will study them closely and work on the few weak points they have."

 

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