Italy beat England on penalties 4-2, after the two teams drew 0-0 in extra time.
Italy are through to the last four at the UEFA Euro 2012! In the quarter-final early last morning, they outperformed England in penalty kicks by 4-2 after a full time and extra time draw of 0-0. The scoreline does not reflect the way the game was played. While it was played in great spirits, Italy had more than 20 shots on target, but could not convert any. English goalkeeper Joe Hart and his defenders did a great job to keep the Italian attack at bay.
Coach Cesare Prandelli fielded an Italy team, exactly as I predicted. So was the team formation. The Azzuri enjoyed the lion’s share of possession against the Three Lions in Kiev, but the lack of finishers in the front was the downside of their game. Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano were getting the balls every seocnd minute from the hardworking midifield, but they were unable to convert those passes. For the first time in the tournament, Balotelli completed 90 minutes of play, and another 30 minutes in the extra time. Though he couldn’t convert the on-field chances, he could however, put Italy in front in the spot-kicks. Though Riccardo Montolivo wasted a kick and allowed the Englishmen to come in front, the two Ashelys (Young and Cole) turned into ashes in front of Gigi Buffon. The first one pushed it away like Montolivo did for Italy, and the second’s attempt was nullified by Buffon. The clean finish that came from the left boot of Alessandro Diamanti ensured that Italy would play Germany in the second semi-final in Warsaw. Buffon proved he was no buffoon at the goal post, but it was heartbreak for the English goalie Joe Hart.
Surprisingly, Italy reaches the semi-final with only one win and three draws! But the game against the Germans would be tougher. What gives Italy promise is that the absence of Giorgio Chiellini did not affect their performance. The second half substitues Antonio Nocerino and Diamanti must have given a world of confidence to Prandelli before the big game against the perfectionists of the world. Christian Maggio received another yellow card which means that he would sit out the semi-final. But Italy are hopeful of another enjoyable night in Warsaw. But they cannot be complacent and must ensure that they convert chances into goals to beat Germany. Yes, they have the potential to do that!