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Curse of shootout hits English again
by Paul Kennedy, June 24th, 2012 5:54PM

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TAGS:  england, european championship, italy

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[ITALY-ENGLAND] Italy entered the knockout phase of Euro 2012 with a record of only two wins in seven shootouts in major competitions. But the Azzurri could take solace in the fact that their quarterfinal opponent, England, was even worse with a 1-5 record entering Sunday's match. Like at the 1990 1998 and 2006 World Cups and 1996 and 2004 European Championships, England's miserable form from the penalty spot continued as it fell to Italy, 4-2, in a shootout after their match ended in a 0-0 tie.

Italy had the best chances in the match, hitting the woodwork twice. Daniele De Rossi hit the post in the third minute, and Alessandro Diamanti clipped the post with a cross in overtime.

Diamanti scored the winning goal in the shootout after Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Antonio Nocerino also converted for Italy, which came back from 2-1 down after Riccardo Montolivo missed the second penalty to win.

"Penalties are a lottery but I thought we deserved victory in the end," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. "When Montolivo missed his penalty I was sad as he was one of the best players tonight. I was watching with my arm around my son and I told him he was lucky he didn't have to buy a ticket.

The key penalty kick was Pirlo's soft chip right down the middle that evened the shootout at 2-2. It brought back memories of the most famous chipped penalty of all time by Antonin Panenka that helped Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in the 1976 European Championship final.

"When Andrea Pirlo stepped up, I was very calm," said Prandelli. "He's a star and knew what he needed to do; and he did it. Around 80 percent of penalty shootouts go down to luck. Some players are used to this kind of pressure, some are just calm in these situations -- but mainly it's down to good fortune."

Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney scored for England, but Ashley Young hit the crossbar, and Ashley Cole, who scored for Chelsea in the shootout win over Bayern Munich in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final, had his attempt saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Italy was rewarded for its almost total domination of England. The Azzurri finished with a 35-9 edge in shots.

"I wasn't surprised by tonight," Prandelli added. "I knew we could control the game. My worry was that we were allowing England too much space on the break -- we could have been a bit cleverer in our build-up play. We tried to play football. We tried to draw England out, we tried to hit them quickly. I think if we'd scored in the 90 minutes it would have been an even better game."



18 comments
  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 6:03 a.m.
    Well, well, well. I really did not want to once more see Italia advance this far, I just didn't. But I give them the nod over England completely because what England did for 120 minutes was rather near a complete disgrace. Maybe Wayne Rooney should have done the right thing well before the match and told Manager Hodgson that he was not interested in playing? Just maybe? Aside from his well taken penalty kick, Wayne Rooney was near useless. He hardly moved much at all after the first 22-25 minutes. (Just how can that be as Rooney got to rest himself completely during England's first two matches?) Steven Gerard gave some effort and made his usual strong shoulder and arm (too much arm, too often?) tackles, but he looked old and slow. What iritates me: England did the Chelsea, just as Chelsea had as their end-strategy for beating FC Bayern Munich in Munich for the CL Final: Just play out the 90 minutes to a draw, then play out the 30 minutes to a draw, and then win on penalties. Pitiful. That's pure cowardice. The play of shrinking violets - just watch England in the final 30 minutes. It must be said; neither side was good. Balotelli is surely a physical presence and has potential, but, boy, he squanders chances like he probably squanders all his big money. He can muscle with the big defenders, but he just does not have the brain/mental material. Di Natale would be better. I just do hope that the Germans stick to the strategy that smart, fast, attacking, intelligent, goal-focused play is the THE WAY to play; it is not only attractive and more entertaining but it ALSO achieves the victory well before full 90 minutes time. It is the confident play that says, "We're better, and we can prove it." (As they will do against Spain in the final, I am convinced.) Four quarterfinal games, and none of them are worth replaying really. (The German game is okay, but it lacks any juice because the Greeks played so poorly. For once I agreed with Steve McManamon. He said, "Well, it's just men against boys" at about the 35th minute of Germany-Greece. He was right.)

  1. Carl Hudson
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.
    Rooney's penalty was NOT well taken. Though it had good pace, it was high and deserved a crossbar, just like Ashley Young's. When will these alleged World Class players learn what every U-9 is taught- there are only two places to hit a penalty- low left and low right, unless you have the nerve and chipping ability of a Pirlo. Speaking of Pirlo, Italy fielded a two-man team: Pirlo and Buffon. Where were the skilled Serie A players?

  1. Eric Offner
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 9:22 a.m.
    Very sad.new coach is so good but how canyou overlook Chamberlain who is a star plyer. Mr hudson on skilled players:did you overlook Diamanti? Given their abilities,the team went very far England has to develop some skilled players in the style of Chamberlain

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 10:07 a.m.
    Agreed, England in no way deserved to win this game. Italy looked to win but could not finish. At least all 4 finalists look to play the game so far. I have a feeling Italy will pull an England vs Germany though. Spain vs Portugal should be entertaining. Spain vs Germany is a reward to soccer as both play the RIGHT way. Is England a country to continue to try to emulate soccer wise?

  1. Kenneth Barr
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.
    Same old same old with England. Italy actually tried to win this game, or at least scoe a goal before going back to the bolthole. As always, England flatters to deceive.

  1. Gene Jay
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
    Really happy for Italy. they played skillful attacking soccer. Montolivo and Pierlo and the rest of the Italian midfield tore England apart. Will say Terry and Lescott did really well on defense, cosidering Italy was coming at them with wave after wave of attack. just amazed England had zero possession. would be surprised if they strung more than 3 passes together all game. i would think just the relieve the defense for a min or so they would try to possess

  1. Joseph Pratt
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
    These quarters for the most part have looked like replays of Chelsea vs. Barca and Chelsea vs. Bayern: defend and counter vs. possession. It's like watching the same game several times, with the jerseys changed. It's become tiresome. Hopefully now that we have 4 teams capable of playing attacking soccer with strong midfield play we will see some entertaining matches. Because as Carlos said, none of the four quarterfinal matches are worth replaying.

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.
    Penalties are not luck. It is a test of skill, nerve and planning. If you take it down the middle you have already decided the GK is not going to be there. Therefore you do not have to blast it like Young did. You take it like Pirlo did. i.e. lack of forethought. I read where the Dutch FA mandated sometime ago after going out on PKs that after every youth game each kid would take a PK. If anyone gets to the National Team they will have experience. i.e. planning. Balitelli and Ashley Cole may be from the same mold Balitelli walking into a school and Cole firing an air gun was it? But it looks like there is more to Balitelli when it comes down to it. In the lead up to the game you could see the false optimism of the English start to rise again.

  1. Leland Price
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 11:26 a.m.
    The real curse of this game was the unbelievably conservative coaching style of Roy Hodgson. It was disconcerting to see a talented English team playing in a defensive shell. We never had a chance to see what the players could really do, if turned loose. It's a loss for the world of soccer and makes me think Hodgson is not the right man for this job. Can anyone say, "Harry Redknapp"?

  1. David V
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.
    Italy are deserved winners... England doesn't even belong there... and I'm tired of all the English commentators on American sports channels, get rid of them, once and for all, if you're going to be international, have many more of them... I don't care about obscure points like, "here's an italian player who just came into the game and he used to play for 4th Division Swansea when he was 18 years old"... too much English bias in America, get rid of it... England is NOT a soccer powerhouse, got lucky 46 years ago, and that's it... move on America, leave England behind... the cream of the crop on that field, and over the years was Andrea Pirlo, he was a class above all others, along with Buffon... Mickey Rooney tried the running thing against Barca in the Champions League in 2011, but after 10 minutes of chasing shadows, you can't do it any more... 4 legit squads made it to the final 4... no one hunkers down on Germany, if they did, you'd think the Germany games were boring too... remember, we won the revolutionary war, we don't have to bow down to England any more, why do it?

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.
    England looked good for the first 10 minutes, then they defended for the rest of the game (and you do have to credit their defense in the final third; I haven't seen so many blocked shots in a while...). Although Rooney did not do much, he task was difficult; he was usually surrounded by 2-3 Italians as soon as he got the ball (and sometimes as many as 5!). Carroll was able to win almost every ball in the air, and often controlling it quite well, but so what? It would still be 3 (at best) v 5-8. After the first 10 minutes, it did not look as if England would be able to score in a million years. Pirlo was clearly the best player on the field. I used to think chips down the middle on PKs were obnoxious, but after thinking about it, because it is hit so slowly, the diving keeper is given time to get out of the way (whereas if it's hit hard, they may have a chance to hit it with a trailing foot). But Italy will have its work cut out for it against Germany.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
    It is me or do all the teams that are in the semis play attacking soccer? Klinsman are you watching?

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 3:07 p.m.
    Cisco, Portugal isn't really an attacking team. It plays robust defense with quick counters. They have the tools to do this effectively. Their normal style is what most teams feel they need to do to oppose Spain, so the Portuguese won't need to change much. Spain certainly won't make substantial changes.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 3:24 p.m.
    There is nothing really wrong with the English team at this moment, just the oversize and unwarranted expectation of its fans (they really do remind me of the unrealistic USA fans). England have a new manager, a team they had to throw together at short notice, and so many of them are young. They really did very well, all things considered. What England need is stability at manager, and lower and more realistic expectations from fans. The Spanish and German national teams are the culmination of years of solid good work by smart managers with a good vision, fed by excellent youth development at the club level. Spain have the advantage of having so many excellent Spanish players playing at their top clubs; and most of these clubs share a similar style of play. (This is somewhat true of Germany as well.) This is not at all the case for England, and it will certainly not be fixed in one tournament's time.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
    Carlos, a few words about vaunted Germany. Against Greece--whose style is cede possession and hope for a break--they couldn't string 6 consecutive passes most of the time. They got thoroughly scorched on Greece's first goal, which seemed to shake them out of their 60 minutes of languid torpor. Overconfident, perhaps? A performance like that against a decent team with a GK that can actually catch the ball and they may be out. No doubt Italy will have their work cut out for them; at this level, everyone does. But it's the Germans who really will be tested. The Italians have some excellent technical players and a very smart manager. They are no Greece.

  1. ROBERT BOND
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.
    At least the commentators can be neutral now-Ian actually said "we" when talking about the kittys-like listening to the homers on talksport games....Maggio out will be tough, DFB would look better with younger guys, who plays for Bastian? Der Mannschaft playing to the level of the opposition, wonder if they will light it up someday.......

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 25, 2012 at 10:53 p.m.
    Not to lose mentality has no place on the pitch.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: June 26, 2012 at 2:57 a.m.
    Can't believe the irony that three bankrupt nations are in the semis, against the only sound economy in Europe. Why are nations that can't even keep a set of account books such good soccer players? Maybe they spend all their time on the soccer pitch when they should be studying accounting. And on top of that they have by far the prettiest fans. What a strange world we live in.


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