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AET Italy* 0 – 0 England

AET Italy* 0 – 0 England

England are unchanged from the win over Ukraine. Roy Hodgson must have been slightly tempted to unleash Andy Carroll, who must be feral by now, to test out Italy in the air. Instead it’s Danny Welbeck up front and his pace could trouble the pace-averse Barzagli and Bonucci. Italy make one change: in comes Mario Balotelli for Antonio Di Natale and Prandelli does stick to the 4-3-1-2 diamond formation instead of switching to a 3-5-2.

England have had one shot on target, Glen Johnson’s effort in the fifth minute. Italy have had a goal disallowed, two shots off the post, countless chances and all the play. Somehow England have dragged the match, kicking and screaming, to penalties. Absurd. That was such an inept performance in so many ways.

PENALTIES: England 0-1 Italy* (Balotelli). A short run-up, a stutter and a finish into the bottom-left corner. Nerveless.

PENALTIES: England* 1-1 Italy (Gerrard). England’s captain steps up and goes the same way as Balotelli, even though Buffon went the right way.

PENALTIES: England 1-1* Italy An atrocious penalty from Montolivo! He tries to emulate Balotelli and Gerrard but puts it so far wide!

PENALTIES: England 2-1 Italy* (Rooney) Rooney thumps it into the bottom-left corner, Buffon sent the wrong way. Advantage England!

PENALTIES: England 2-2 Italy* (Pirlo) How are your nerves? With Italy desperately needing Pirlo to score, he Panenkas it down the middle! Outrageous.

PENALTIES: England* 2-2 Italy There goes the advantage, Ashley Young smashing it against the bar! I was telling anyone who’d listen that he’d miss.

PENALTIES: England 2-3 Italy* (Nocerino) Nocerino scores and the pressure is all on England now.

PENALTIES: England* 2-3 Italy A dreadful penalty from Ashley Cole! He hits it tamely towards the bottom-right corner and Buffon easily saves! If Diamanti scores, England are out.

ITALY WIN 4-2 ON PENALTIES! ENGLAND ARE OUT! Alessandro Diamanti coolly sends Hart the wrong way and strokes the ball into the bottom-left corner, Hart going the wrong way. England have lost on penalties again. Same old.

England deserved nothing more after a performance that could, if we were being generous, be described as battling and, if we were being harsh, be described as inept. Apart from a first-half flurry, they failed to keep the ball, were devoid of ideas and were indebted to the woodwork, the linesman’s offside flag, luck and some awful Italian finishing. Italy thoroughly dominated and while the focus will be on the two Ashleys for their penalty misses, that would mask the sad truth: England simply weren’t very good. Still, at least they don’t have to play Germany.


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