Italy vs. England: How the Better Team Won (Picture Special)
So, my predicted semi-finals are Portugal vs Spain and Germany vs Italy. It will be the death of football if Greece play England. Let’s wait and watch. – Supreetkini
They say that pictures send a clearer message than words and I’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to the best quarterfinal fixture in the European Championships. This is also for the benefit of those folks that missed the game for reasons best known to them.
It’s a new week and the world will take another deserved break from the European Championships.
The last quarterfinal fixture turned out to be the most exciting as the Italians dominated the proceedings from kick-off to Alessandro Diamanti’s match winning penalty.
Daniele de Rossi drew first blood with a shot Ricardo Quaresma would have been proud of. A stunning volley with the outside of his left book that left Joe Hart scrambling but the post spared the goalies blushes.
Glen Johnson made one of his Liverpool-esque slalom runs and some shaky defending from the Azzurri allowed the full back to test Gigi Buffon from six yards out. Luckily for Italy, there was no venom on the shot but the legendary goalie did well to keep the ball out of his net before smothering it on his second attempt.
Andrea Pirlo was a general in midfield and he pulled all the strings in the Italian midfield like the chief puppeteer he is. He lofted a superb over the top through ball to Mario Balotelli that was on side, but the forward dallied on the ball and was closed down by the legendary shagger, John Terry.
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck shared a Manchester United moment as both strikers connected well with a neat one-two but Welbeck killed a bird in the sky with his attempted side-footed effort.
Balotelli had a scissor kick drive that was also saved by Hart
Unlike Spain that bored me to tears with their predictable passing game, Italy tossed England around and showed great intent, creating chance after chance.De Rossi missed a sitter from less than two yards out but Hart came into the fray again when he stopped the AS Roma midfielder’s stinging shot before saving Mario Balotelli’s shot as well. Riccardo Montolivo fired his effort over the bar.
Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson brought Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll to add some attacking verve to his team but Italy continued to dominate their illustrious English counterparts. Steven Gerrard had a free kick from quite some distance that almost went all the way to Buffon’s net but the goalie kept the ball in his sight despite Wayne Rooney’s attempt to impede his vision.
With just minutes to spare in regulation time, Claudio Marchisio chipped a brilliant ball over England’s defense to the feet of Antonio Nocerino. The AC Milan defender controlled the ball superbly and launched a shot that would have beaten Hart nine times out of ten but Johnson was on hand to make a great goal-saving tackle.
Right at the death, England made a late surge against the run of play and almost broke Italian hearts. Ashley Cole waltzed forward from the left before lofting a cross across the goal mouth. Andy Carroll used his body mass well to guide the ball into Wayne Rooney path and Manchester United striker prepared for immortality with a bicycle kick that would have put his name in the back pages.
Unfortunately, a rocket in orbit incurred the wrath of Rooney proposed shot.
Extra time beckoned and the Italians picked up where they left off. Nocerino thought that he had won the game for his nation with a header when Alessandro Diamanti dinked in a cross for him. The goal was ruled offside.
Joe Hart’s reaction after the goal was ruled out was priceless.
Over 500 passes, 68% ball possession, 36 goal attempts, seven corners and 120 minutes of great Italian football was not enough to win the contest. The world held its breath as both sides went through the lottery of a penalty shoutout.
Balotelli kicked off the shootout against his club colleague, Joe Hart. They exchanged pleasantries in the build up to the spot kick but the maverick’s shot went into the bottom corner.
Steven Gerrard took a long walk and stepped up confidently facing the unforgiving eyes of Gianluigi Buffon. He dispatched his effort past the goalie to level the contest for England.
Riccardo Montolivo hit his penalty hard and low but it also went wide off the mark.
Wayne Rooney was tasked with an opportunity to handing England an advantage by converting his own spot kick. A feat he performed admirably.
While Andrea Pirlo took his time to get to the box, Joe Hart seemed like an imposing figure, making funny face at Pirlo, like the way those Rugby folks taunt their opponents before a match.
However, Pirlo’s penalty was the C in class. A cheeky lob through the middle that left Hart for dead.
Ashley Young was next in line to take a spot kick to increase England’s lead yet again. The winger has taken his fair share of penalties in his Aston Villa days, but he smashed his effort at the cross bar.
Antonio Nocerino knew that a goal for Italy would put one foot in the semis pending on subsequent shootouts. He sent his spot kick past Hart to put the scoreline at 3-2.
Up stepped the next Ashley with the funny hair-do. Ca$hley Cuntly Cole is a decent penalty taker on his day, but his effort against a keeper of Buffon’s quality was one of the poorest spot kicks I’ve witnessed in a long while.
The misses from the “Ashleys” meant that a goal from Alessandro Diamanti, a player that has plied his trade in England with West Ham, was going to put his name in the history books for scoring the decisive penalty that was to send Italy to the semifinals.
And history he made…
And that’s how the better team won.
There was enough time for this…
As well as this…
The Italians revelled in their glory while both Ashley Young and Ashley Cole hoped for the ground to open up and swallow them.
I love Arsenal and the English national team, but seeing Ca$hley Cole miss a penalty was a bitter sweet feeling.
The quote of the day belongs to FourFourTom,
I hope you enjoyed the picture special.
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