Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Joe Hart collects the ball ahead of Italy striker Mario Balotelli. The England goalkeeper had a busy evening at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev and was unable to prevent the Azzurri winning on penalties.
Joe Hart collects the ball ahead of Italy striker Mario Balotelli. The England goalkeeper had a busy evening at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev and was unable to prevent the Azzurri winning on penalties.

Euro 2012: England 0 Italy 0 (Italy win 4-2 on penalties)

The Azzurri commanded the game for 120 minutes, but were forced to rely on penalties to send England out of the competition.

KIEV, UKRAINE // Why always we? England's footballers might have borrowed a refrain from one of their most mischievous opponents after they fell to their time-honoured penalty shoot-out defeat in Kiev last night.

Alessandro Diamanti, who enjoyed a less than successful stint in England with West Ham United, fired Italy into a semi-final meeting with Germany with the winning penalty, as Roy Hodgson suffered his first defeat as England manager, and a nation went back to the drawing board.

Whether Italy will be good for anything when they get there after two hours of exertions against England is debatable. But at least they deserved to advance.

It was no more than the Azzurri deserved. Italy dominated the 90 minutes regulation and the 30 minutes of extra time as England continued to attempt to rewrite the theory that you need to have the ball for at least some of the game if you are going to win football matches.

While Andrea Pirlo, the Italian schemer, gracefully controlled the midfield more or less unencumbered, the players in white looked like they had cattle-prods in their shoes.

Given their flagrant disregard for possession, England are lucky they have such a good goalkeeper. As an indicator of how besieged their goal has been in this tournament, Joe Hart has made more saves than any other gloveman at Euro 2012.

In the first half of this game, only Glen Johnson, the right-back, had more touches than him for England.

Hart had not lost a competitive game in the colours of the senior national team before last night. For much of the time, the Manchester City No 1 was all that stood between Italy and a semi-final against Germany on Thursday night.

The Italians were inches away from a fourth-minute lead, as well as having a goal of the tournament contender to celebrate, when Daniele de Rossi's first-time drive from distance clipped the inside of the post with Hart well beaten.

England had barely had a touch by then, but as soon as they did get hold of the ball they could have had a goal of their own almost immediately.

Johnson found himself in the centre-forward position with the goal at his mercy, but Gianluigi Buffon, Italy's goalkeeper and captain, pawed away the shot before recovering the ball at the second time of asking.

The Liverpool full-back figured prominently as England asserted themselves, sending in one appetising cross that Wayne Rooney headed over. That was as good as it got for a while for England.

Mario Balotelli, Hart's clubmate at Manchester City, was denied when John Terry recovered to block his shot when the Italian seemed to be clean through on goal.

The tempestuous Italy striker was a ready threat. Before the interval, he troubled Hart with a volley from the edge of the box, was then thwarted by the England defence from yards out, and soon after fired inches over from long range.

All the best chances were falling to the Italians. England were lucky that De Rossi, who had struck the post with an eminently tougher effort earlier, botched a volley just after the restart when merely yards out.

How England remained on level terms was a mystery. Hart foiled Balotelli again, this time with his knees, then Riccardo Montolivo contrived to blaze the follow up over.

There was always the possibility Italy's profligacy would count against them, and England did have their opportunities.

The best of them in the second half fell to Ashley Young. It seems odd to think now, given the tournament he has had, that much hope was invested in the Manchester United winger before England left for Poland and Ukraine.

He summed up an insipid performance - and competition as a whole - by bundling his shot straight at the prone body of Andy Carroll, a second-half substitute for England, when well set in front of goal.

The last opportunity of normal time fell the way of Rooney, who fluffed his attempted overhead kick after England's best attack of the half.

Ashley Cole provided the overlap, but the left-back's cross was over hit. Carroll did well to head the ball back across goal, but Rooney's attempt at the spectacular ended in abject embarrassment. Even in extra-time it was Italy who were in the ascendant, with Balotelli firing in shots and Diamanti clipping the post with a cross.

Antonio Nocerino did have the ball in the back of the net for Italy, but the flag went up for offside.

It was left to penalties to decide Germany's semi-final opponent on Thursday.

Riccardo Montelivo missed for Italy, but Young's effort smacked off the crossbar, and Buffon easily gathered Cole's weak effort, leaving Diamanti to score the decisive kick.

 

pradley@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 Yuzvendra Chahal, centre, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates celebrate after the bowlers set up an easy win over Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National

Bowlers set up Bangalore as Patel stand tall over Mumbai

Mumbai bowlers gave early hope but Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers' unbeaten stand of 99 ensures second defeat for the men in blue in Dubai.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National