ITALY are through to the semi finals against Germany after winning a penalty shoot out (4-2) following a goalless game against England, in the Euro 2012 quarter final in Kiev this evening.
The two Ashleys Cole and Young both failed to bury their penalties and England, dominated for long periods of play, were out.
It had been a surprisingly open and entertaining game in the first half.
There was almost an explosive start.
Three minutes in, an audacious, swirling left footer from Daniele De Rossi hit inside of Joe Hart’s post and bounced harmlessly out.
Glen Johnson then fluffed a chance close in, flapping a weak shot at goalie Gianluigi Buffon’s left hand.
Wayne Rooney, after an unconvincing start, sneaked in the box and almost teed up Danny Welbeck on the near post.
Rooney then had a diving header from Johnson’s cross just over.
England were turning the heat on, although Italy started to force their way back into it.
Defences were on top although John Terry had to act smartly to stop Mario Balotelli chipping Hart on a breakway. It was last-ditch stuff.
The Manchester City forward then had another half chance which he wasted.
Welbeck was the next to fail to bury a chance, sidefooting over after a decent interchange with Rooney.
Hart had to palm away an Antonio Cassani long range effort, with seven minutes of the half remaining.
Italy really should have scored on 40 minutes when Balotelli flashed the ball over from close range and the same player had another chance.
After a decent England start to the second half, Italy started to press hard, Balloteli and Riccardo Montolivo failing to bury clear chances.
Suddenly England were fighting for their Euro competition lives as Italy dominated possession and Balotelli at the heart of most dangerous moves.
Manager Roy Hodgson recognised the need for change and James Milner came off for Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll replaced Welbeck.
Ashley Young, something of a bit part player until this point, had a half chance as Carroll started to make room in the penalty box.
Inspiration was needed and England fans started getting behind their heroes.
But they also needed more from the team’s engine room as the Lions were looking remarkably tired.
Yet Rooney almost delivered from a Steve Gerrard freekick, his glancing header just failing to get past Buffon.
England were guilt of giving the ball away too much, in both halves.
And Johnson had to get in smartly to stop Italy’s Nocerino breaking the deadlock.
Inevitably, the game went to extra time as Rooney scissor-kicked over.
So on to extra time.
Italy maintained majority possession at the start, but England still looked as though they could wreak some havoc in the final third.
Scott Parker was subbed by Jordan Henderson as England looked for fresh legs.
As soon as he came on England almost profited from a classic scramble in the goal mouth.
A killer touch was needed; but could anybody find one?
The blues almost did, Diamanti’s cross clattered Hart’s outer woodwork before the second period of extra time started.
England again had to defend deep as Italy continued to probe with Diamanti going close again.
Italy also had a goal disallowed when Nocerino headed in from an offside position.
It was painful to watch as England were virtually over-run, but they survived until penalties.
Balotelli: scored. 1-0
Gerrard: scored 1-1.
Rooney: scored 1-2
Pirlo: scored 2-2
Young: hit the bar.
Diamanti: scored 4-2.
Starting line ups
Hart, Johnson, Cole, Terry, Lescott, Gerrard, Young, Milner, Parker, Rooney, Welbeck.
Substitutes: Green, Butland, Kelly, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Walcott, Henderson, Downing, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carroll, Defoe.
Italy: Buffon, Balzaretti, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Marchisio, De Rossi, Montolivo, Pirlo, Balotelli, Cassano.
Substitutes: Sirigu, De Sanctis, Maggio, Chiellini, Ogbonna, Motta, Giaccherini, Diamanti, Nocerino, Di Natale, Borini, Giovinco.
See pictures from Kiev in tomorrow’s Star.