If there is consolation for England it is that they have exceeded expectations in Ukraine: and here they played their part in an absorbing quarter final, capped by the operatic agony of a shoot-out to end a campaign serenaded right to the death by a wonderfully unrelenting band of England supporters inside the stadium.
The end when it came was swift: with the match scoreless after 120 minutes Riccardo Montolivo missed an early penalty for Italy, only for Ashley Young to then miss for England too, before Ashley Cole’s kick was saved, leaving Alessandro Diamanti to win it for Italy – which he did nervelessly. – source
Outplayed, outclassed, out-thought and out. In the end, justice has been done. 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.
And when the final whistle blew, the celebrations started in Barga with flag waving fans taking to the streets and congregating down in Barga Giardino.
“This match has now acquired a the characteristics of a pyrrhic victory, hasn’t it?” says Saurav Samaddar. “Surely whichever team goes through after 120 minutes doesn’t stand a chance against Germany who have had two extra days of rest to boot. Not to mention the luxury of having been able to rotate their players in their QF as well.”
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