England 0 Italy 0: They dealt with the pressure better, says Hodgson
Roy Hodgson admits Italy were able to keep their cool better than England in the decisive penalty shootout after their Euro 2012 exit
Roy Hodgson admitted his surprise at seeing Ashley Young and Ashley Cole miss their penalties as Italy triumphed in the shootout to send England home from Euro 2012.
Italy had dominated most of the game but Hodgson’s men produced a resilient defensive display to prevent the Azzurri from scoring and force the quarter-final tie to a shootout.
Riccardo Montolivo missed his kick to hand England the initiative in the shootout but Young’s effort rebounded off the crossbar and Cole’s shot was easily collected by Gianluigi Buffon, before Alessandro Diamanti stroked home the winner to send Italy through to the semis.
Hodgson felt his side were well prepared for penalties and said he had watched all five of England’s spot-kick takers bury their efforts in training on a regular basis.
“When it goes to penalties, you do have a chance,” Hodgson told BBC Sport. “Unfortunately it was Italy that took the chance and not us.
“The five penalty takers we had are very good ones. We’ve been doing a fair amount in training and I’ve been watching Ashley Cole and Ashley Young smashing in penalties on a regular basis, so of course you hope.
“I know we’ve got an obsession with penalties in this country – and it’s going to be an even bigger obsession now. But the bottom line is you can’t reproduce the tired legs, the pressure, the nervous tension. They stood up to it better than we did, [Andrea] Pirlo’s penalty being a classic example.
“Certainly the practicing didn’t help us too much on this occasion – maybe it’s just fate that we don’t win on penalties at the moment.”
Despite the obvious disappointment of another quarter-final exit at a major tournament, Hodgson says England can take heart from their displays in Poland and Ukraine and felt his players gave it their all against Italy.
“I really can’t fault any of their players for their efforts,” he continued. “Towards the end we had lots of players running on empty, with very tired legs and fighting off cramp and they kept us in the game right until the end.
“I thought the chances were there for both teams, we created some very good chances ourselves. It was always going to be a question of who was going to take their chance and as the extra-time wore on we were tiring badly and we weren’t able to establish enough possession in midfield and they came at us time and time again.
“In some ways you might have even preferred if they had have got a goal in that time when they were playing well because you might have felt that’s a little bit less of a cruel way to lose than on penalties.
“We’ve gone out with our heads held high and I personally think the lads have done a fantastic job for the country and I think people have appreciated it.”
Hodgson also reserved praise for Italy midfielder Pirlo, who pulled the strings for the Azzurri in midfield with a brilliant display for Cesare Prandelli’s men.
“He was very good,” he added. “I’ve worked with him in the past and know what a good player he is. Today he seemed to always find time and very rarely wasted a pass. We worked hard to keep him in check but obviously a player of that quality you can only keep in check to a certain extent.”