Italy has set up a semi-final date with Germany af

Italy provides a semi-final date with Germany after overcoming England in penalties, 4-2, in a one-sided affair at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv.

While the 3 Lions drew first blood within the shoot-out when Italy’s Riccardo Montolivo dragged his spot-kick wide, these were made to pay when Ashley Young and Cole failed to convert their efforts with Alessandro Diamanti making no mistake in putting the English out of its misery after its dreadful display tonight.

The Azzurri dominated from start to finish and was arguably a deserved victor completing almost 500 more passes and boasting 26 more attempts at goal over the course of the match, though it was made to do it the hard way as both sides couldn’t be separated in 120 minutes of football amid a 0-0 stalemate.

England stuck with the tried and true naming an unchanged line-up to the side that ousted Ukraine, 1-0, last Monday, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck leading the road in a familiar 4-4-1-1 formation.

Cesare Prandelli clearly had other ideas though as the Italian manager rung the alterations after prevailing 2-0 against the Republic of Ireland in the last group stage match.

Implementing a 4-4-2 formation, Leonardo Bonucci and Montolivo replaced the injured duo of Giorgio Chiellini and Thiago Motta, while enigmatic striker, Mario Balotelli, was restored towards the line-up in place of Antonio Di Natale in advance with ‘Super Mario’ facing none other than three of his Manchester City team-mates in the England line-up tonight.

Cautious Football Booted to have an Attacking Style of Play

With both sides establishing very much on the defensive within their Euro 2012 campaigns thus far, many expected a dull and cagey encounter.

Boy, were they wrong!

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    England, but particularly Italy, produced some of the most action-packed 120 minutes of football that has been observed in the tournament up to now.

    The Azzurri took the game towards the English right from the outset with Balotelli manufacturing an early tester that English goalkeeper, Joe Hart, handled competently in the very first minute.

    Hart could do nothing after three minutes whenever a brilliant reduce by Montolivo set up Daniele De Rossi for that AS Roma midfielder hitting a wickedly curling strike from distance that thundered off Hart’s right-hand post and away.

    England was stung into action and came oh-so-close to opening its account in the match two minutes later through a great chance that fell to Glen Johnson.

    Johnson played a straightforward ball out to James Milner on the right channel, and, when Johnson continued his run and received the return ball around the fringe of the six-yard box, he simply had to score.

    However, the former Chelsea right-back couldn’t generate enough power in his shot with, Italian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon getting a huge paw on the ball before gathering it at the second time.

    The end-to-end action continued, yet each side were lacking the ultimate product to really test either ’keeper as Rooney presented everyone else using the best example amid a header from a dangerous position that sailed high within the bar.

    The Azzurri Asserts its Authority

    As the half wore on, England began to tire, and, through Andrea Pirlo, Italy looked the more likely to attain.

    Balotelli activated an italian man , offensive within the 25th minute once the fiery forward sprung the offside trap, but John Terry, who played Balotelli onside, recovered superbly to bar the Italian’s goal-bound chip from even testing Hart.

    Montolivo seemed to be justifying his selection tonight after his cleverly lofted ball picked out Balotelli, all over again the striker snatched at the effort hitting his first-time shot straight into the grateful hands of Hart.

    It wasn’t all Balotelli, however; his striking partner in Antonio Cassano looked lively and was being given an excessive amount of space through the retreating England defence, yet just one of his three attempts on goal within the first half forced Hart into action with Cassano’s bender from outside the region parried off to safety.

    How it was 0-0 at half time, just the football gods knows.

    The second half, nevertheless, saw a lot of same: Italy dominating possession and playing the ball about patiently, England sitting deep and relying on using its pace to hopefully counter to full effect.

    Federico Balzaretti and Ignazio Abate were causing England real problems down the wings getting in plenty of crosses that forced the English defence to clear the risk, even when it meant conceding the corner.

    De Rossi should’ve because of the Azzurri the lead within the 52nd minute whenever a header into the area from a corner saw the midfielder pull his shot hopelessly wide.

    Balotelli went one better with a resultant strike on goal, but nonetheless Hart kept the Italians away using his legs this time around to deny an italian man , forward.

    The Three Lions were now being completely outplayed, but, to their credit, they defended stoutly blocking a host of shots in ensuring they protected Hart at every opportunity.

    For almost all their toil, the Italians did well not receiving frustrated at the absence of conversion before goal and so they continued to plug away with the hope they could kill the contest in the 1 hour 30 minutes.

    Diamanti went near to doing that in the 81st minute warming the hands of Hart with a well-drilled shot.

    Although, in reality, the English gave its opposition defence hairier moments within the remaining minutes of normal time with substitute, Andy Carroll, and Rooney going close with their respective chances as extra time loomed.

    Italy Continued its Dominance into Extra Time

    England did make it to additional time and started the brighter within their quest for that crucial goal, but, carrying out a tame effort from Balotelli, Diamanti came as near as anyone to taking the lead scraping the woodwork with a cross-come-shot that completely deceived Hart.

    More Italian pressure ensued in the other half of extra time with England clearly having one eye on penalties, although the English came inches away of not even which makes it as Antonio Nocerino’s converted header from Diamanti’s centre was rightly ruled out for offside.

    England got what it really wanted reaching penalties, though one will don’t know why a team may wish to depend on the dreaded shoot-out as Pirlo’s arrogantly converted chip and Buffon’s save from Cole were the differences in Italy triumphing in penalties.

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