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Brilliant Pirlo Leads Italy To Victory Over England

For the sixth time, England have been knocked out of a major tournament on penalties, losing 3-2 on penalties to Italy tonight after a scoreless 120 minutes of play.

Italy will next play Germany in the semifinals on Thursday in Warsaw, Poland while defending champion Spain plays Portugal on Wednesday in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Other than an opening 20 minutes when England almost scored twice, Italy totally dominated this game, especially in the second half and extra time.

England’s inability to hold onto the ball to relieve the pressure on their pressure once again haunted them as time and time again the England back-four cleared the ball only for it to come straight back at that them.

The official stats show how bad England’s lack of possession was. Italy attempted 1,003 passes completing 815 (81%) while England managed to complete only 320 passes, from 522 attempts (61%).

Italy, must be wondering how they failed to score against England as they twice hit the post. First Daniele De Rossi hit the post in the third minute with a long range effort and then Diamanti clipped the post with a curling cross in the 101st minute.

With 35 attempts on goal in the game, Italy wasted chance after chance due to a lack of composure in front of goal, something they will have to fix if they are to have any chance of beating Germany in the semi-finals.

Coming into the game everyone knew that the key to stopping Italy was to stop Pirlo. But for some reason England gave Pirlo all the time in the world to ping passes all over the pitch, never get close to him, and never putting him under pressure. With all the time in the world, it was not a surprise to see Andrea Pirlo take advantage, completing 114 of 133 passes (86%). He attempted 19 more passes than England’s 4 starting midfielders combined, completing the same amount as they attempted – 114.

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