England vs. Italy  0 - 0

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Euro 2012 quarter-final: England 0 Italy 0 (2-4 pen)

25 June 2012 19:16

Italy defeated England 4-2 on penalties to book a semi-final against Germany at Euro 2012 following a 0-0 draw after extra-time on Sunday.

The quarter-final at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev, produced the first goal-less draw of the tournament, but it was nevertheless an entertaining affair.

Italy dominated but were unable to find the killer blow, with England restricted to a series of half-chances.

Mario Balotelli scored the first penalty of the shootout past Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart, with Steven Gerrard on target for England.

Riccardo Montolivo dragged his effort wide, before Wayne Rooney scored to put England 2-1 ahead.

Andrea Pirlo netted for Italy with an ice-cool chipped effort, before Ashley Young's attempt cannoned off the crossbar.

Antonio Nocerino slotted home Italy's fourth, and Ashley Cole then saw his tame shot saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

It was left to Alessandro Diamanti to stroke home the winner for Italy, booking his team a last-four showdown with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday.

Earlier, Italy had the ball in the back of the net with six minutes left in extra-time, but Nocerino's stooped header was ruled out for offside.

England, under pressure for the majority of the match, did enjoy chances, notably through Rooney.

The Manchester United forward headed over early in the first half, and narrowly failed to connect with an overhead kick in the 93rd minute.

But neither side proved capable of breaking the deadlock, forcing the last-eight clash to be settled by the lottery of the shootout.

Italy enjoyed the first sight of goal three minutes after kick-off, when Daniele De Rossi struck the upright with a swerving long-range effort.

But it was England who surprisingly impressed in the opening stages, with Buffon called upon to deny Glen Johnson from close range in the fourth minute.

Rooney then headed narrowly over from Johnson's whipped cross on 14 minutes.

After that, Italy dominated the first half, and twice went close through Balotelli.

The unpredictable forward beat England's offside trap in the 25th minute, and found himself clean through on goal, only for John Terry to recover with an inch-perfect tackle.

Balotelli went close again seven minutes later, firing a skidding half-volley straight at Joe Hart.

With three minutes remaining in the half, Pirlo found the head of Antonio Cassano, and the Milan forward nodded back across the face of goal.

Balotelli seemed certain to score, but Terry and his centre-back partner Joleon Lescott crowded him out, with the ball somehow deflected over off an England boot.

Cesare Prandelli's side continued to dominate proceedings early in the second half, with Balotelli drawing a save from Hart at point-blank range six minutes after the restart.

Hart could only parry the shot, and Montolivo sent his effort just over the bar on the rebound.

Roy Hodgson rung the changes on the hour mark, with the hard-working James Milner replaced by Theo Walcott, and Danny Welbeck withdrawn in favour of Andy Carroll.

England finally enjoyed a glimpse of goal five minutes after the double substitution, when Carroll won a header in the area, but Young dagged his snap-shot narrowly wide of the post.

Another half-chance arrived 10 minutes later, when Gerrard sent in a free kick from deep, and Rooney failed to connect with his head, allowing a grateful Buffon to gather the ball.

England had Johnson to thank for keeping them in the match with two minutes remaining, the Liverpool fullback deflecting substitute Nocerino's shot over the bar from metres out.

At the other end, Rooney had his own chance to win it in the 93rd minute, failing to connect with an audacious bicycle kick following England's best passing move of the second half.

The first half of extra-time saw the tempo drop considerably. England went close during a goal-mount scramble in fourth minute, with Lescott and Carroll unlucky not to get a shot away.

Italy threatened through Balotelli, while Diamanti went agonisingly close, striking the post with his over-hit cross.

Two exhausted teams failed to threaten in the second half of extra-time, with Nocerino's disallowed goal the closest either team came to avoiding the dreaded shootout.

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Euro 2012 quarter-final preview: England v Italy

24 June 2012 19:21

England and Italy will contest their first competitive fixture for 15 years in the last quarter-final of Euro 2012 on Sunday.

Roy Hodgson's England defied gloomy pre-tournament predictions to top Group D and avoid an early meeting with holders Spain in the last eight.

They kicked off their campaign in Poland and Ukraine with a somewhat fortunate 1-1 draw against France.

That was followed by a rollercoaster 3-2 victory over Sweden, in which England took the lead, fell behind, and then rallied to take all three points, thanks to goals from Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck and substitute Theo Walcott.

They were outclassed for long periods of their final Group D match against Ukraine, who were desperate for victory to continue their participation in the tournament on home soil.

But a lone Wayne Rooney strike and huge slice of good fortunate - with Ukraine denied a legitimate goal despite putting the ball over the line - saw Hodgson's men emerge 1-0 winners from the match at the Donbass Arena, Donetsk.

Italy, meanwhile, earned a valuable point with a 1-1 draw against world and European champions Spain in their first match of the tournament.

They surrendered the lead to draw with an impressive Croatia by the same scoreline in their second match of Group C, before beating Ireland 2-0 to finish as runners-up behind Spain.

While Cesare Prandelli's side are yet to hit any great heights at Euro 2012, they have improved markedly on their dismissal showing as defending champions at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where they surrendered their crown after failing to escape a group containing New Zealand, Slovakia and Paraguay.

On Sunday the two countries clash in competitive action for the first time since October 1997, when England held Italy to a 0-0 draw at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, in a qualifying match for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Expect Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, who returned from suspension in the match against Ukraine, to start again for England at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev.

He will be partnered by either club team-mate Welbeck or Liverpool centre-forward Carroll.

Ashley Young and James Milner have yet to impress, but Hodgson is likely to keep faith with the pair ahead of the more unpredictable Arsenal duo of Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

In attack for Italy, Prandelli must choose between Udinese veteran Antonio Di Natale, AC Milan's Antonio Cassano or Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who would be up against club colleagues Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and Milner.

Centre-back Giorgio Chiellini will miss out for Italy with a thigh problem, and is likely to be replaced by Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci.