Germany 1-1 Italy (6-5 pens)
Germany edged out Italy in a thrilling penalty shootout tonight in Bordeaux to book their place in the semi-final of EURO 2016. Mesut Ozil had put the Germans ahead in normal time before Jerome Boateng gave away a penalty allowing Leonardo Bonucci to level the sides. The deadlock couldn’t be broken in normal time so the sides went to penalties where the German’s just pipped the courageous Italians.
Germany boss Joachim Low raised eyebrows ahead of kick-off by dropping Julian Draxler and matching Italy’s shape with three central defenders, even though his side had not conceded a goal in their first four matches at Euro 2016. And they rarely looked like losing that record in an edgy first half short on clear chances – although Bastian Schweinsteiger – on for the injured Sami Kehdira in the 15th minute – had a goal disallowed for a clear push on Mattia De Sciglio. Mario Gomez headed over a Joshua Kimmich cross and Thomas Muller scuffed one into the arms of Gianluigi Buffon, but Italy went closest in the opening 45 when Stefano Sturaro’s driven strike was deflected just wide by Jerome Boateng.
German forward Muller is yet to score a goal at a European Championship and he was denied by an incredible acrobatic clearance off the line from Alessandro Florenzi shortly after the interval after Gomez had set him up on the edge of the area. As the tension rose, Italy picked up three bookings in the first 14 minutes of the second half, including De Sciglio’s second of the tournament, ruling him out of a potential semi-final – but thoughts of qualification were dented as Ozil opened the scoring on 65 minutes. Gomez was the chief architect on the left wing, feeding the run of Jonas Hector to the by-line and his cut-back was deflected off Bonucci into the path of Ozil to half-volley into the bottom corner from seven yards.
Gomez, who limped off on 72 minutes, should have added a second shortly before his departure when he received Ozil’s lofted pass and chested down, only to see his improvised close-range back-heel spectacularly palmed over by Buffon’s right hand. And it proved costly as Germany handed – literally – an equaliser to their opponents after 77 minutes following a moment of madness from Boateng.The defender inexplicably raised both hands in the air to block a Florenzi cross as he challenged Chiellini – and Bonucci struck the resulting penalty firmly to the left of the previously unworked Manuel Neuer.
Hummels’ 90th-minute trip on Eder earned him his second booking of the tournament, ruling him out of Thursday’s semi-final, but extra-time was needed to decide who would be in that match in Marseille. Substitute Draxler hooked an over-head kick just over the bar and misplaced a pass to Muller when he was in on goal, but the tie would ultimately be settled by spot-kicks.
Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne and Germany’s Toni Kroos hit the net before late substitute Zaza skied his over the bar and Muller saw his effort saved by Buffon. Andrea Barzagli scored for Italy, but then Ozil struck the post and Pelle rolled his effort haplessly wide, allowing Draxler to level the shoot-out at 2-2. Neuer then saved Bonucci’s second penalty of the evening to give Schweinsteiger the chance to send Germany through, but he lofted his chance over the bar.
It went to sudden death and Emanuele Giaccherini, Marco Parolo, De Sciglio, Hummels, Joshua Kimmich and Boateng all held their nerve before Neuer saved Darmian’s low penalty to his left. Hector then smashed home the 18th kick of the shoot-out to break Italian hearts and take the world champions one step closer to a fourth European Championship trophy.
It was hard to watch Italian captain Gianluigi Buffon leave the field in tears this evening. He gave it his all for his country but once again we have seen, one man cannon’t carry the weight of a nation. Ever the consummate professional Buffon will hopefully be back in action for the Azzurri in the future.
Germany will face the winner of tomorrow’s quarter-final that sees hosts France take on Iceland. The resulting semi-final will take place next Thursday.
Man of the Match – Manuel Neuer (Germany)
- Bastian Schweinsteiger replaces Sami Khedira 16 mins
- Julian Draxler replaces Mario Gomez 72 mins
- Matteo Darmian replaces Alessandro Florenzi 86 mins
- Lorenzo Insigne replaces Lorenzo Insigne 108 mins
- Simone Zaza replaces Giorgio Chiellini 120 mins
Germany – Mats Hummels, Bastian Schweinsteiger
Italy – Stefano Sturaro, Mattia De Sciglio, Marco Parolo,Graziano Pelle,Emanuele Giaccherini.