Neuer wins Bonucci
mind games

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BORDEAUX — Manuel Neuer says his
determination to stop Leonardo Bonucci’s second spotkick of the evening was the key to Germany’s dramatic 6-5 penalty shootout win over Italy in Saturday’s quarterfinal.

Neuer, voted world’s best goalkeeper for the last three years, saved kicks from
Bonucci and Matteo Darmian in the
marathon 18-penalty shootout after the match finished 1-1 at the end of extratime in Bordeaux.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper said he had been annoyed when Bonucci’s 78th minute penalty cancelled out Mesut Ozil’s opening goal in regular time and was
determined to stop the defender scoring in the shootout after Simone Zaza and Graziano Pelle had also failed to hit the target.

“I have never experienced a penalty shootout like that before, it really lasted a long time,” said Neuer, who won the Man-of-the-Match award.

“The two which I managed to stop I still have in my head and the others just shot straight down the middle.

“I didn’t want to let Bonucci score twice, so I stopped his shot.”

Neuer came out on top in the battle of the world’s top goalkeepers as Germany squeezed past Gianluigi Buffon’s Azzurri.

Germany, however, will be without centreback Mats Hummels for the semifinals after he picked up his second yellow card.

“It’s a long walk to the penalty spot,” Hummels said after his penalty hit the net via Buffon’s fingers.

“I was glad Buffon only got his fingertips to it.

“The second yellow card hurts, but it means my battered body has two or three extra days to recover,” he added with an eye on next weekend’s final.

Jonas Hector, who drilled home
Germany’s winning spotkick said his heart was in his mouth.

The Cologne defender, 26, held his nerve to slot the ball low past Buffon with Germany’s ninth penalty attempt. — Reuters