Germany 1-1 Italy: Azzurri pay the penalty as Die Mannschaft reach semi-finals
Antonio Conte’s reign as Italy coach came to a cruel end on Saturday evening as they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Germany on penalties, after holding the world champions to a 1-1 draw after 90 and 120 minutes.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil opened the scoring early on in the second half, before Leonardo Bonucci levelled proceedings for the Italians from the penalty spot shortly after.
The Azzurri were the first to make their mark on the tie, as they looked to test Manuel Neuer early on. However, Emanuele Giaccherini could only fire his effort off target.
Germany had Gianluigi Buffon beaten for the first time this summer through first-half substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger, only to have the goal rightfully ruled out after the referee deemed the Manchester United midfielder to have fouled AC Milan‘s Mattia De Sciglio.
Mario Gomez was next to try his luck against the Juventus stalwart in the Azzurri goal, but he could not direct his header goal-ward when he perhaps should have. Joachim Low’s side then created a number of chances, all of which proved to be unsuccessful as Buffon and Italy’s defence stood strong.
For all of Germany’s probing, it was Italy who will feel they should have gone in at half-time with a lead. Stefano Sturaro saw his shot deflected wide after Giaccherini did well to keep a long ball from Bonucci alive in the box.
Ten minutes into the second half, Low’s men would have gone ahead were it not for the acrobatic defending of Alessandro Florenzi. The versatile Roma midfielder threw a leg up behind himself to divert a driven Thomas Muller strike behind.
They would not be made to wait much longer, however, as in the 65th minute, Ozil did well to turn Jonas Hector’s cutback beyond Buffon to break the deadlock.
Ex-Fiorentina forward Mario Gomez looked certain to make it 2-0 just moments later, but Buffon did brilliantly to tip his improvised back-heel effort over the crossbar.
Just 13 minutes after Ozil’s opener, the Azzurri were awarded a penalty as Jerome Boeteng’s hands, which were raised above his head, prevented a Giorgio Chiellini flick-on from reaching the danger zone of the German box. In the absence of Antonio Candreva and Daniele De Rossi, Bonucci took responsibility and duly dispatched the ball past the outstretched Neuer.
As the clock ticked on, both sets of players looked leggy and tired, and the remainder of the game unfolded without too much in the way of goalscoring opportunities. Similarly, extra-time came and went with no real chances arising, and Conte appeared to have told his players to play for penalties.
Simone Zaza, who had come on in the dying seconds of extra-time with the specific duty of taking a penalty,missed his effort, which sparked a series of misses that saw the score stand at 2-2 after each team had taken five penalties.
Sudden death wore on until the ninth round, when Matteo Darmian’s nervously tame effort was easily save by the imposing Neuer, before Hector stepped up and fired his effort beneath the living Buffon to send Germany through to the final four.