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EURO 2012: Italy advance to semifinals with PK win over England

Italy getty



Penalty shootouts are notoriously unfair but in the end justice was served as Italy are through to the semifinals.

A scoreless 120 minutes was dominated by the Italians as England's torrid time in shootouts continues and sends the Three Lions home in the quarterfinals. Alessandro Diamanti cooly slotted home the winning penalty after Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missed England's final two spot kicks. Riccardo Montolivo missed Italy's second penalty to give England a brief advantage.

The 120 minutes, while scoreless, was littered with chances. Any talk that this would be a defensive and boring quarterfinal was dismissed within the first five minutes as both teams came close to opening the scoring. Daniele De Rossi's swerving volley from 30 yards out beat Joe Hart but came off the inside of the post in the third minute.

Glen Johnson nearly gave England the lead just two minutes later when he received a pass in the center of the box but the ball got caught under the defender's feet and Johnson's scoop shot was palmed away by Gianluigi Buffon.

For the next 10 minutes England were in the ascendancy and should have taken the lead in the 15th minute but Wayne Rooney's diving header went over the crossbar. Eventually Italy retook control for the remainder of the half. Andrea Pirlo beat England's offside trap in the 32nd minute to find Mario Balotelli in alone on goal but the striker took too much time and John Terry was able to scramble back and block the shot. Balotelli was denied another gilt-edged chance when Joleon Lescott came out of nowhere to send Cassano's cross over his own crossbar. 

The second half was a continuation of the first with England squandering possession and Italy wasting chance after chance. De Rossi somehow avoided putting Italy in the lead when a poor clearance from England allowed Claudio Marchisio to head back into the box. De Rossi found himself three yards away from goal with the ball at this feet but somehow shot wide.

Hart failed to hold a wicked Marchisio shot and the rebound fell to Balotelli in the 52nd minute. Balotelli's shot was well saved by Hart's knees and Montolivo sent his shot just over the bar. Balotelli continued to harass England's goal and his overhead kick was barely over the bar.

Italy continued to dominate but England nearly stole the result with a chance at the death. A counterattack led by substitute Theo Walcott found Ashley Cole down the left flank. Cole picked out Andy Carroll, who headed back across goal but Rooney's acrobatic overhead kick flew over the bar and the game went to extra time.

Both teams were obviously fatigued heading into the extra period. Neither team provided many chances as England sat deep and prayed for penalties. Antonio Nocerino's header was in the back of the net three minutes from time but he was correctly whistled offside.

England got off to a fast start in the penalty shootout with Gerrard and Rooney converting. Balotelli beat Manchester City teammate Hart before Montolivo sent his kick wide. Pirlo kept Italy alive with a soft chip into the center of the net. Young and Cole's misses dropped England to a 1-7 record in penalty kick shootout.

Share your thoughts of the quarterfinal below.


  1. Watch an EPL game, picked at random and then watch a Serie A game, picked out the same way.

    After that tell me how you decided which league played better soccer.

    I’m curious as to how you would decide.

  2. the EPL is quality because its best talent is foreign… I think pretty much everyone knows this. For example,

    Manchester City: Silva, Balotelli, Aguero, Yaya Toure, Kompany, Tevez, Nasri, Dzeko

    Manchester United: Vidic, Valencia, Nani, Evra, Berbatov, Chicharito

    Chelsea: Torres, Mata, Drogba, Hazard, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cech, Malouda, Essien

    Arsenal: van Persie, Vermaelen, Sagna, Arteta, Koscielny, Szczesny, Gervinho, Podolski, Rosicky, Mertesacker

  3. Everyone seems to be focusing on how bad the Brits were, when in reality, they were made to look that bad because the Italians are that good. Italy bossed that game. Where are all the fans of the EPL, supposed best league in the world, where all these Brits practice their craft? Makes you wonder where the better soccer is being played- EPL, or Seria A? I think you got a glimpse of the answer on Sunday.

  4. Cole had the worst game I’ve seen him have in a long time.

    It is possible that the way Italy is set up (the other players and the scheme) and what they ask Diamanti to do makes more sense for him than what goes on at West Ham.

    You are talking about two different teams.

    The most extreme example I can give you is that Leo Messi, until recently, never looked anywhere near as good or was anywhere near as productive when he played for Argentina as compared to when he played for Barca.

    The same goes for Rooney and Ronaldo if you think about how they look for their clubs vs how they look for their countries.

    In the case of all three guys, their clubs are designed more or less to make the maximum use of them.

    Their national teams are more limited in the variety of players they have and can only do so much tailoring. They also have dramatically less practice time to work everything out.

  5. England played Chelsea-ball and it was enough to get them thru to the quarters. However, England doesnt have Drogba or Torres on their national team & thats where the road ended. They wouldnt have made it that far if they were in another group.

    Smoke & Mirrors

  6. also, i think it’s pretty funny that Germany, Italy, and Spain are all in the semis while England is not. in other words, the countries who have the best leagues are in the semis, except England.

    Spain – La Liga
    Germany – Bundesliga
    Italy – Serie A

    like others have said, the best EPL teams don’t have a lot of English players. the best teams in the other three big leagues all have many players from the respective country the league is in.

  7. Sorry vic, but this really wasn’t about Roy. This is really an indictment of the level of talent available in England currently. This is why the best teams in the EPL have primarily foreign talent. If England had continued to play through this match like they started, perhaps there would have been a different outcome. But for some reason, they just stopped attacking except for rare counters when they were too slow to gain any real advantage. That’s on the players in my mind, not the coach.

  8. I understand your point about the history aspect with England, but I would really hope that the Germans players will have sense enough to know that history has no bearing whatsoever on their performance against Italy in the semis. Maybe if they met in the last World Cup or something and the teams were very similar, but these are two brand new teams playing against each other for the first time in a major tournament. It would be foolish to allow history to create false pressure. Not that it wouldn’t happen I suppose…

  9. “torrid” generally doesn’t mean something poor or bad–it means the team is on fire and doing well:

    A scoreless 120 minutes was dominated by the Italians as England’s torrid time in shootouts continues and sends the Three Lions home in the quarterfinals.

    Poor writing, in general. “Sends the Three Lions home IN the quarterfinals?” Come on man.

  10. I agree with everything you say–to an extent. But what especially impressed me last night with Balotelli, even though he did not score, was his calm totally focused demeanor. If he can keep from going crazy Thursday and stay focused, I think Balotelli can chew up Boateng and Badstuber and spit them out. Unfortunately, Mats Hummels, who I think has been by far Germany’s best player in Euro 2012, will present a stronger challenge for Balotelli. And Balotelli is not going to be afraid of Manuel Neuer and his sometimes strongman tactics, like against Greece when Samaras scored the equalizer goal and Neuer — before he realized the ball had gone into the net — wrapped his arms around Samara’s leg to keep him from going after the ball. Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct! Pathetic. If Neuer tries that sort of ploy against Balotelli he will be in for a rude awakening (Yes, I am a big fan of Super Mario B.)

    As history being meaningless, tell England history means nothing when last night they lost on penalties in a WC or EC for the sixth straight time. I am certain it was in the back of their minds and history will be in the back of the minds of all Italian and German players on Thursday.

  11. Isnt insanity repeating the same mistake over and over. The England fans/players wanted an English coach and they got exactly what they deserved. They were totally outplayed and were lucky to even get to penalty kicks.

  12. When they tried to build up they could barely hold on to the ball longer than a pass or two, so I figure they saw that and didn’t want to get countered on and hoped the Italians wouldn’t score.

    I mean it kinda worked, they got to pks where its more of a crapshoot.

  13. I think Portugal over Spain would be a huge upset (even though Portugal’s looked good). Strange to say about a team as good as Portugal but that’s how good Spain have been these last few years.

  14. I’m not saying he can’t, but I don’t see Balotelli scoring two goals against Germany when he’s only scored once the entire tournament so far. Germany is much better than every team they’ve played so far, aside from Spain of course. And the history aspect about Italy never losing to Germany really doesn’t mean anything, at all…

  15. I don’t understand why England gave the Italians so much room and didn’t apply pressure in their half for the entire game… what were they saving themselves for?

  16. is that true? Amazing. I knew a lot of long kicks for Carroll to head straight to Italy players, but would have never thought most completed passes. Pretty bad way play 30 minutes overtime when you are destined to lose a penalty shoot…

  17. Hey, let’s not count Italy out yet. Italy has never lost to Germany in a knock-round Euro Cup or World Cup game. Never. Ever. I am predicting two goals by Mario Balotelli and an Italy upset against a great German team.

    But I agree with you on Portugal-Spain. I see Portugal surprising. The big-mouth Barcelona players (Xavi, Busquets, etc.) on Spain are already bad-mouthing Ronaldo and it has a strange ring to it and I cannot imagine that Casillas and Ramos and Alonso are happy with that sort of talk–shows the divisions on the Spain team.

  18. England is missing a quality facilitator in midfield. When they broke they always missed the last pass or two and that let them down. It really was a hard match to watch, but give England credit for getting to penalties and give Italy credit for winning it there.

  19. England was all about set pieces in this year’s European Championships; three of their five goals came from set piece plays, so I guess it was fitting that they would go out on them

  20. Per zonal marking on Twitter, England’s most frequently completed passes were Joe Hart to Andy Carroll. I think that says it all about England’s performance especially when you consider that Carroll was a sub in the second half.

  21. Predictions:

    Spain has no answer when Ronaldo scores an early goal:

    Ronaldo 3, Spain 1

    Germany 2, Italy 0


    Ronaldo 1, Germany 0

  22. Euro skill level is still above MLS, No one is saying its not. However, MLS has been more entertaining.England look horrible, against a strong side but not as strong as Spain and Germany. MLS is growing, great two game. However the next two semi-finals should be better at the Euro.

  23. Welbeck – athletic as He**
    walcott – speed
    young – speed
    johnson – speed & athleticism
    carroll – tall & athletic
    defoe – speed

    England relied on parking the bus this whole tournament instead of using the advantages of speed & athleticism they have.

    Gerrard was subpar except for the free kicks & set pieces
    parker & milner were mediocre at best. I guess they look better when they are on their EPL teams playing with top-notch talent around them

    rooney was a step slow.

    overall a very boring display of football.

  24. Every English player was worse than every corresponding Italian player today. Some England fans complained that Hodgeson is the wrong manager because he’s suited to mediocre players, not ‘world class footballers.’ I think he’s the perfect man for the England job for that very reason.

  25. I thought MLS today was good, but I don’t know that these games were better than most of the Euro games. On the other hand, neither England’s nor Italy’s finishing would have been harmed by adding Chris Boyd or Kenny Cooper to their front lines.

  26. Italia was their own worst enemy against England today. Despite their inability to find net and England’s overall abysmal performance, I found the game entertaining. Pirlo’s penalty was a thing of beauty.

  27. “Any talk that this would be a defensive and boring quarterfinal was dismissed within the first five minutes as both teams came close to opening the scoring.”

    And for the next 90 minutes England looked to be the worst team in the entire competition bar none. They literally did not string more than 3-4 passes together for like a 20 minute period of time. It was awful. Awful.

  28. What I don’t understand is why a guy who didn’t exactly set the world on fire at West Ham – Alessandro Diamanti – totally dominated the supposed “best left back in the world”, Ashley Cole.

  29. Best part of the Italy/Eng match? When they switched over to the Portland/Seattle game. With the exception of a couple games in Euro 2012 the MLS games on ESPN and NBCS today were much more entertaining.


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