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Back of the Net
The Back of the Net boys report on Italy's triumph over England
Plucky England saw their hopes and dreams crushed yet again by penalties, exiting Euro 2012 on penalties in a way that can only be thought of as heartbreakingly fair.
A characteristic performance of brave ineptitude saw England push Italy all the way, before suffering the unbearable torment of losing a match to a team who played much better than they did.
Having struck the woodwork twice and had a goal disallowed for offside in a game they dominated, the Azurri were successful with four of their five penalty attempts, leaving England to reflect on the gross justice that had befallen them.
“No team deserves to go out on penalties,” said England manager Roy Hodgson. “Except when they’ve shown no capacity to pass the ball to a team-mate, only had 32% of the possession, and taken 27 fewer shots than their opponents. Then they probably do deserve it, to be honest.”
“We were second best in every single department,” admitted captain Steven Gerrard. “So to be second-best at penalties too just seems wrong. Italy were much the better side, so the fact that they’re going through instead of us is perverse.”
The result looks set to increase the calls for penalty shootouts to be abandoned in favour of an alternative tie-breaking method, such as a coin-toss, a dance-off, or by checking which team lies closer to the Greenwich Meridian.
Meanwhile, magnanimous Italy manager Cesare Prandelli was prepared to confess that his side were the recipients of a massive stroke of fairness.
“Penalties are nothing but a contest of nerve and skill, removing any element of random chance,” he told FourFourTwo. “It’s a complete lottery."
More match reports from Back of the Net:ESP 2-0 FRA: France fail to turn up, turn up, fail to turn up, loseGER 4-2 GRE: Germany put long-suffering fans through slight discomfort POR 1-0 CZE: Ronaldo: "Ronaldo? Ronaldo, Ronaldo. Ronaldo!"UKR 0-1 ENG: Oddly apportioned karmic refund sees England through
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