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England 0 Italy 0 (2-4 on pens): Cole and Young miss as Three Lions crash out on penalties AGAIN

Written By Koka Albert on Monday, June 25, 2012 | 2:13 AM

Only the nasty statistic survives. Only that and the nagging sense of disappointment that follows whenever England lose in this manner to opposition of the quality of Italy.

Going out on penalties is always painful and for Ashley Young and Ashley Cole, the two England players who missed on this occasion, the European Championship ends in crushing circumstances. It also once again highlights the mental fragility of English players when it comes to the cruel lottery of spot-kicks.

But if Roy Hodgson ever believed his players were about to erase that record he spoke of and become the first England team to beat a major footballing nation on foreign soil in the knockout stages of a tournament, he would have done so knowing it would not have been deserved.
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Going home: England trudge off the pitch
Going home: England trudge off the pitch


The statistics that emerged at the sound of the final whistle concerning Italy’s superiority illustrated as much. The fact that Cesare Prandelli’s team struck the post twice and had a goal disallowed for offside. The fact that England’s players spent much of the night chasing the peerless Andrea Pirlo in vain.
Pirlo (below) was magnificent, crowning one of the finest individual displays we have seen here in eastern Europe with a chipped penalty that was simply sublime. Joe Hart stuck his tongue out in a desperate attempt to put him off and Pirlo punished England’s goalkeeper for his impertinence. The man has nerves of steel as well as the touch of an angel.

To the list of England’s failures Hodgson has to add another one. In particular to the five penalty defeats by Portugal, Argentina and Germany.

But for England’s new manager there is more. There is a deeper understanding of the job he has; the task he faces; the fact that there remains much work to do before England can win a game like this.
Hodgson will also focus on the positives of the last few weeks and rightly so. He will remind himself how low the expectations were amid the chaos of his last-minute appointment just 56 days ago — 43 if you  discount the 13 he spent as West Bromwich Albion manager.
Cr-Ash: Ashley Young is crestfallen after seeing his spot-kick saved by Italy captain Buffon
Cr-Ash: Ashley Young is crestfallen after seeing his spot-kick saved by Italy captain Buffon

Spot of bother: Ashley Young crashes his effort onto the bar during the shootout
Spot of bother: Ashley Young crashes his effort onto the bar during the shootout

Advantage England: Montolivo hangs his head after missing his penalty
Advantage England: Montolivo hangs his head after missing his penalty

Peerless: Andre Pirlo's penalty past Joe Hart was simply sublime with the Italian craftily chipping his attempt down the middle
Peerless: Andre Pirlo's penalty past Joe Hart was simply sublime with the Italian craftily chipping his attempt down the middle
Double whammy: Ashleys Young (above) and Cole (below) both missed for England
Double whammy: Ashleys Young and Cole both missed for England

Hammer blow: Ex-West Ham midfielder Diamanti buries his penalty to send his team-mates wild
Hammer blow: Ex-West Ham midfielder Diamanti buries his penalty to send his team-mates wild
Hammer blow: Ex-West Ham midfielder Diamanti buries his penalty to send his team-mates wild

He should reflect with some pride on the three performances that enabled England to win a group that included France. On the way he galvanised this England squad and delivered a team that fought for one another. Cole had called them ‘11 bulldogs’ who were prepared to die for the cause and their success in taking this quarter-final to the death was proof of that.
From John Terry and Joleon Lescott, from Hart and Glen Johnson, too, came some heroic performances here at the Olympic Stadium. For 15 or 20 minutes of the first half England also played their best football of the tournament. Their best football in years, in actual fact.



Line-up: The England and Italy teams pose for their photos before kick-off

Pals: Mario Balotelli and Joe hart greet each other before the match gets underway
Pals: Mario Balotelli and Joe hart greet each other before the match gets underway

But that spell lasted as long as it took Italy to regain control, and in particular for Pirlo to dictate the tempo with his exceptional vision and passing.
If Hodgson was pleased with the first half, the last 75 minutes must have felt like a lifetime. As it was it spanned two days, this game ending well after midnight.
Almost: England's goalkeeper Hart was beaten by this early effort from Daniele De Rossi...
Almost: England's goalkeeper Hart was beaten by this early effort from Daniele De Rossi...
... but the ball rebounded back off the post to safety to deny the Italians an early lead

Chance: Glen Johnson had this opportunity to fire England ahead from close range
Chance: Glen Johnson had this opportunity to fire England ahead from close range

Reactions: Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon produced a smart stop to deny Johnson

For Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker, it was exhausting. Chasing, chasing, chasing. Although nobody chased more than Wayne Rooney in that opening 45 minutes. He ran almost a kilometre more than any other England player, most of the ground he covered in pursuit of Pirlo. That said, Rooney was again short of his best. He looked unfit and was again unable to impose himself on the contest.
Brave: Wayne Rooney gets his head in front of Ignazio Abate's boot for another chance
Brave: Wayne Rooney gets his head in front of Ignazio Abate's boot for another chance

Hodgson tried to relieve the pressure by sending on Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott, but to no avail. With Parker’s lungs and legs unable to give any more, he also ended up sending on Jordan Henderson.
How difficult it was going to be became alarmingly apparent after an opening two minutes and 55  seconds that Italy completely  dominated. A case of pass, pass, pass before Daniele De Rossi unleashed a swerving shot that bounced off Hart’s right-hand post.
Miss: Buffon screams at his defence after seeing Rooney go close with his effort
Miss: Buffon screams at his defence after seeing Rooney go close with his effort

Famous face: Roman Abramovich was among the crowd watching the match in Kiev
Famous face: Roman Abramovich was among the crowd watching the match in Kiev

All smiles: FA chairman David Bernstein sat next to UEFA president Michel Platini for the game
All smiles: FA chairman David Bernstein sat next to UEFA president Michel Platini for the game
Battle: Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci wins the header against Danny Welbeck
Battle: Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci wins the header against Danny Welbeck

But such was England’s confidence at this stage, they responded well, with Johnson ending a move that he had started, a move that continued with Young and James Milner, with a close-range shot that forced a quite brilliant save from Gianluigi Buffon.
For a while after that, it was England who dominated, and there were chances for both Rooney and Welbeck, too. It was absorbing stuff — fast, exciting, end to end.
The sight of Italy pumping balls towards Mario Balotelli must have encouraged Hodgson. Until, that is, they started to find their range and Terry and Lescott had to make some first-class challenges to stop the Manchester City striker from scoring.
Eyes on the ball: England desperately defend a corner in the goalless first half
Eyes on the ball: England desperately defend a corner in the goalless first half
Direction: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli gestures as Steven Gerrard holds on to the ball
Direction: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli gestures as Steven Gerrard holds on to the ball

Italy finished the half in the ascendancy and their confidence grew after the break. There were a couple of England attacks and a bicycle kick Rooney sent over the crossbar in second-half stoppage time.
But it was a torturous 45 minutes for Hodgson and torturous for his players, too, such was the superiority of Prandelli’s side.
England were lucky not to concede when Hart spilled a powerful shot from De Rossi. The England goalkeeper then did well to block the follow-up effort from Balotelli, but with the goal at his mercy the otherwise impressive Riccardo Montolivo sent his shot over the crossbar.
Pace: Ashley Young tries to outsprint Abate at the Olympic Stadium
Pace: Ashley Young tries to outsprint Abate at the Olympic Stadium

Clear: Balotelli fires a volley at goal after finding space inside the penalty box
Clear: Balotelli fires a volley at goal after finding space inside the penalty box

Spurned: Balotelli had power but sent his effort straight into the arms of Hart
Spurned: Balotelli had power but sent his effort straight into the arms of Hart

It was to the considerable credit of England’s defenders that this game went to extra time. Again Italy went closest to scoring in that period, with Alessandro Diamanti swinging in a cross that bounced off a post.
When it came to penalties, however, England had no such luck. They were prepared. As well as the practice they did in training, there was the sight of Dave Watson, the goalkeeping coach, producing an iPad with key information for Hart.

Surely? Balotelli just failed to reach this set-up from Antonio Cassano as England cleared
Surely? Balotelli just failed to reach this set-up from Antonio Cassano as England cleared

But Hart made not one save. Montolivo sent his wide, Young hit the crossbar and Cole — normally so good from 12 yards — made it all too easy for Buffon to make the decisive save.
Game over. Adventure over.
Relief: Hart knows that is a golden opportunity for Balotelli to break the deadlock
Relief: Hart knows that is a golden opportunity for Balotelli to break the deadlock

Anger: Balotelli kicks the post after he failed to score
Anger: Balotelli kicks the post after he failed to score
                          Anger management: Balotelli kicks the pos after he failed to score

Nervous night: England boss Roy Hodgson watches his side from the sidelines
Nervous night: England boss Roy Hodgson watches his side from the sidelines

So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi
So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi

So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi
So close: Italy spurned big chances from Riccardo Montolivo and Daniele De Rossi

Ouch: Young and Abate hold their heads after a nasty clash in the air
Ouch: Young and Abate hold their heads after a nasty clash in the air
Time for change: Hodgson threw on Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott in a bid to lift England
Time for change: Hodgson threw on Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott in a bid to lift England
Pain: Gerrard is treated for cramp after pulling up on the turf
Pain: Gerrard is treated for cramp after pulling up on the turf

Ambitious: Rooney attempts an overhead kick in the dying stages of normal time
Ambitious: Rooney attempts an overhead kick in the dying stages of normal time
Over: Rooney collapses on the floor after sending the ball too high of Buffon's goal

Full support: England fans made a huge amount of noise as the game headed into extra-time
Full support: England fans made a huge amount of noise as the game headed into extra-time

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