Italy Beats England in Euro 2012 Match-up
Substitute Alessandro Diamanti, only on his third cap, struck the decisive penalty to help Italy oust England 4-2 on penalties here on Saturday to set up a Euro 2012 semifinal clash with Germany.
The regular time of the eye-catching quarterfinal ended in 0-0, which was the first goalless tie of the tournament. After the goalless extra time, the penalty shootout began with Italian striker Mario Baltelli’s flash goal.
However, Italian midfielder Riccardo Montolivo shot wide in the second round, and both Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney scored to lift England to a 2-1 lead. After Andrea Pirlo tied the score 2-2 with a mysterious dink, both Ashley Young and Ashley Cole failed in their attempts. Young missed the target and Cole’s shot was saved by Gianluigi Buffon. As Antonio Nocerino and Diamanti sent the ball home, Italy won.
England coach Roy Hodgson said after the duel, “We tried our best and we took penalties in training.”
Both Young and Cole showed their form in penalties before but today the luck was not on their side, Hodgson said.
Italian coach cesare Prandelli told the press conference, “We controlled the game and created many chances. We would have opportunities to end the game in regular time. We deserved the win.”
“To win a penalty shootout, I think, luck accounts for 80 percent,” Prandelli said. “Pirlo’s dink showed his calmness. Although Montolivo missed his penalty, he was great tonight in the regular and extra time.”
Answering a question about why Baltelli was chosen to be the first one in the shootout, Prandelli said,” He himself asked for it and we all trust him.”
Commenting on the match, Prandelli said,” The opponents did not want to come out, so we have to play quickly. We dominated the match especially in the second half.”
Italy boasted 64 percent of ball possession and 35 shots, 20 on target, against England’s nine and four.
During the game, England made a flying start, but after 10 minutes, Italy started to be in control. The most splendid chance came in the 25th minute when Balotelli was sprung clean through over the top but England keeper Joe Hart came out, and John Terry made a vital block as he got his leg in the way of Balotelli’s attempted chip.
In the 49th minute, Italian midfielder De Rossi missed a great chance. The corner was cleared, then nodded back in and De Rossi was all alone six yards out but dragged his volley wide.
In the 52nd minute, Italy squandered a triple chance. Pirlo fired in the first effort and Hart parried, then his legs block Balotelli’s follow up from eight yards before Montolivo volleyed over to end a breathless passage.
In the 60th minute, Balotelli brought down a looping ball in the box and teed it up before sticking an overhead kick over the bar.
England made substitution first in the 61st minute. James Milner and Danny Welbeck went off, Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll came on.
The 63rd minute witnessed a nice work by Balotelli, down the right and holding it up, he laid it back to Pirlo who found De Rossi at the back post but the latter’s shot went wide.
England’s chance came in the 65th minute. Walcott crossed, and Carroll confused Ignazio Abate. The ball broke free but Young scuffed it wide from 12 yards.
In injury time, Roony made a bicycle kick in the box but it flew over the bar.
In the extra time, Italy still laid siege to the England goal. Substitute Nocerino scored at the goalmouth with a header but was deprived as offside.