KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24: Gianluigi Buffon of Italy makes a save during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Italy Defeat England On Penalties To Advance In Euro 2012

England have been dealt another heartbreaking loss on penalties. Ashley Young hit the crossbar and Ashley Cole had a penalty saved in Italy's shootout win.

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20 Total Updates since June 23, 2012
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Wayne Rooney Disappoints His Country Once Again

Rooneo, Rooneo, whereforth art thou Rooneo?

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Andrea Pirlo Is Still World Class

Andrea Pirlo was cut loose by A.C. Milan because he is old and slow. Old and slow Andrea Pirlo made England (and his own teammates) look silly for 120 minutes on Sunday.

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England Vs. Italy, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals: Final Score, Italy Wins On Penalties

Italy are headed to the semifinals of Euro 2012 after a penalty shootout victory over England. The Azzurri were dominant throughout the match, but their finishing failed them for 120 minutes, as they failed to turn their possession and shot advantages into goals in a 0-0 draw. Gianluigi Buffon was the hero in the shootout with a great save on Ashley Cole, while Andrea Pirlo dominated the match.

The first half was eventful, with both teams generating clear chances on both ends. Even though the match ended 0-0 after 120 minutes of play, it was hardly boring or devoid of chances like some predicted. Things got off to a very fast start with Daniele De Rossi hitting the post in the 3rd minute, followed by Glen Johnson forcing a save out of Buffon just a minute later on the other end.

Those would be the best chances of the first half for either team, though they created plenty more. Italy were on top throughout the half, taking 13 shots and keeping the ball for two-thirds of the half, but Joe Hart was rarely tested. John Terry and Joleon Lescott were the best players on the pitch for England in the first half, making a number of great blocks and clearances. Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo ran the show from the center, but Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker did well to keep them from playing too many through balls to the Italy strikers.

The second half was far from boring, but wasn't nearly as wide open as the first half. England got off to a terrific start with a quick chance for Wayne Rooney, but he miscontrolled the ball in the box in the opening minute of the half, wasting a golden chance. Italy would more or less dominate the half from then until the end, with De Rossi missing perhaps the best chance of the game in the 48th minute, badly missing a clear opportunity right in front of the goal.

Italy had three of their best chances of the game consecutively in the 52nd minute, and miraculously failed to score. Hart made a save on a long-range effort by Montolivo, then another on the rebound attempt by Mario Balotelli. Montolivo stepped up and looked poised to score on the third attempt, but was put off by a sliding challenge by Johnson and fired over the bar.

As the half went on, Montolivo began to disappear from the game while Pirlo dictated play more and more. He was far and away Italy's best player throughout the match, contributing to his team in all aspects of play. He was able to dispossess England players, shield the ball and turn away from traffic and set up his teammates for scoring chances all match long in an absolutely brilliant performance. He was part of almost every Italy half-chance in the game, but half-chances were all they got for most of the second half.

Wayne Rooney almost scored what would have been an equally spectacular and undeserved winner for England in stoppage time, but just missed connecting with an overhead kick attempt that sailed over the crossbar. That was the last significant kick of the ball in regular time, which led to an extra time period in which both teams seemed rather content with going to penalties.

Substitute forward Alessandro Diamanti had the best chance of extra time, and it didn't even come on an attempted shot. He hit a cross that seriously fooled an out of position Hart, flying past the England keeper before it ricochet off the far post. Diamanti had a solid extra time period and looked to set up fellow sub Antonio Nocerino for a 114th minute winner, but Nocerino was correctly ruled offside and his goal was disallowed. Both teams rode out the final minutes and headed to penalties, where England lived up to their reputation for failing to win big penalty shootouts.

After Mario Balotelli and Steven Gerrard made their penalties, Montolivo gave England a gift by missing his shot wide right of Hart. Rooney powered his shot into the back of the net, which was followed by an excellent cheeky chipped penalty by Pirlo.

Things changed with England's third taker, Ashley Young, who cracked his penalty off the crossbar. Nocerino made his spot kick, putting the pressure on Cole. Buffon looked like he knew exactly where Cole was going and dove to his left immediately, grabbing Cole's shot that didn't quite get all the way to the corner, allowing Buffon to save comfortably. That gave Diamanti the opportunity to win the match, and he did so easily, placing the ball far away from Hart to book Italy a semifinal date with Germany.

You can find our previous coverage of the game in our England vs. Italy, Euro 2012 quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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England Vs. Italy, Euro 2012: Penalties? Penalties!

Alright, we're going to penalties in Italy vs. England. We've had 120 minutes of scoreless football, but we're going to see someone stick the ball in the net now. Hopefully more than one person, although 1-0 would be an absolutely hilarious penalty shootout.

England will be happy, because they've been absolutely dominated. After a great first half hour, Italy were by far the better side and they were very unfortunate not to have breached Joe Hart's net. They hit the post twice through Daniele de Rossi and Alessandro Diamanti and had an Antonio Nocerino goal ruled out for offside. Meanwhile, England have seriously tested Gianluigi Buffon but once, when he saved well from Glen Johnson in the very early stages. TO THE SHOOTOUT. Italy will shoot first.

Mario Balotelli SCORES. Brilliant into bottom corner, Joe Hart guessed the right way but couldn't stop it.

Steven Gerrard SCORES. Pretty much exactly the same penalty.

Riccardo Montolivo MISSES. Wide of the right post by a foot or so!

Wayne Rooney SCORES. Blasted in, Buffon sent wrong way.

Andrea Pirlo SCORES. Chipped down the middle, soooo cheeky.

Ashley Young MISSES. Rocketed back off the crossbar and now we're all square again!

Antonio Nocerino SCORES. Joe Hart dives the wrong way and the pressure's all back on England.

Ashley Cole SAVED. Weak penalty to Buffon's left, easy save.

Alessandro Diamanti SCORES! ITALY ADVANCE TO THE SEMIFINALS

We have live coverage in our England vs. Italy, Euro 2012 quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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England Vs. Italy, Euro 2012: Extra Time Awaits

We've had ninety minutes of football and despite a phenomenal opening, England vs. Italy has ended up scoreless, the first 0-0 so far in Euro 2012. Truth be told, it was almost all Italy in the second half, and England, who played very well for the first half hour, were very lucky to have escaped (so far) unscathed. Even as the clock wound down, they nearly found themselves losing the match -- Glen Johnson, who's been excellent, was forced into a sublime block on a goalbound shot from Antonio Nocerino in the 88th minute which looked set to win the match for the Azzurri.

That said, England have been dangerous on rare occasions and they very nearly snatched the match in the last minute when lovely combination play saw Ashley Cole cross to Andy Carroll, who nodded down for Wayne Rooeny to send a bicycle kick ... shooting towards Row Z. No matter who you were supporting, that would have been cool. Anyway, extra time it is.

We have live coverage in our England vs. Italy, Euro 2012 quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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England Vs. Italy, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals: Halftime Score 0-0 After Entertaining 45 Minutes

England can't keep the ball, can't finish and are relying on some last-ditch clearances to avoid conceding, but they're still doing enough to keep themselves in their match against Italy. The Italians have been the superior side through 45 minutes, but the Three Lions are still holding onto a 0-0 draw at halftime.

Italy have attempted 13 shots, though many of those have been half-hearted long efforts. Some of their best chances won't be on the box score as shots, though, thanks to some great clearances by the England defense.

The biggest chances of the half came in the very beginning, with one on each end in the opening five minutes. Daniele De Rossi sparked the game to life with a great strike that beat Joe Hart in the 3rd minute, but deflected off the inside of the post and away from the goal. England answered with a chance of their own a minute later, through a great run into the box by Glen Johnson, but he had his shot saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Things stayed end-to-end for about the first half hour of the match, though Italy had a bit more of the ball. Wayne Rooney had a clear header sail over the bar in the 14th minute, missing a chance that might have been even better than Johnson's. Mario Balotelli had a couple of chances going the other way, but was thwarted twice by England's central defenders. John Terry made an excellent block on a Balotelli shot in the 24th minute and Joleon Lescott cleared a cross into the box in stoppage time that would have resulted in a tap-in goal for Balotelli if it ever reached him.

Roy Hodgson will be thinking about substitutions in the locker room, but he has to be happy with the way his team has performed so far. Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard's positioning in the center has been very good while Danny Welbeck is working hard to keep Andrea Pirlo from running the game. The Juventus regista hasn't been able to create any clear-cut chances for his teammates, and Riccardo Montolivo has taken up a lot of the creative duties as a result. He's been Italy's best player so far, and Hodgson might have to come up with a way to counter him as well.

We have live coverage in our England vs. Italy, Euro 2012 quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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England Vs. Italy, Euro 2012: Lineups

After three hilarious one-sided quarterfinals, we should be getting closer to a real contest as Roy Hodgson's England take on Italy, who managed to edge Croatia for the runners-up spot in Group C. England are unchanged from their 1-0 win over hosts Ukraine, while Italy are playing Riccardo Montolivo in place of the injured Thiago Motta, which should make for a more creative, if less defensively solid, central midfield.

The lineups essentially mean that England will be attacking down the flanks while Italy dominate the centre and, presumably, possession. This is not a surprise. It's an open question as to whose system will work better, though. Less than an hour until kickoff now ...

England starting lineup (4-4-1-1): Joe Hart; Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Glen Johnson; Ashley Young, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker, James Milner; Wayne Rooney; Danny Welbeck.

Italy starting lineup (4-3-1-2): Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Federico Balzaretti, Leonardo Bonucci, Ignazio Abate; Daneil de Rossi, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio; Ricardo Montolivo; Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli.

We'll have live coverage in our England vs. Italy, Euro 2012 quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Maybe Defence Can Win Championships

As much as defensive football frustrates fans, it's difficult to deny how effective it is in winning trophies

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