GERMANY once again proved why they are penalty masters when they edged out Italy albeit a tale of horrendous misses from both sides.
Germany missed more penalties in 10 minutes than in their six previous shootouts spanning 40 years.
Still they found a way to emerge
victorious and end a 54-year tournament jinx by Italy.
Germany had only previously failed twice from the spot in shootouts, with Uli Hoeness’s 1976 blunder costing them the European title and Uli Stielike missing in the 1982 World Cup semifinal victory over France.
Since Hoeness’s miss, the Germans had become penalty masters, winning four out of four in the World Cup and beating
England in the 1996 semifinals.
Italy, in contrast, had lost five of their eight shootouts — including a win and a loss to decide World Cup finals.
Instead of the usual masterclass, Germany’s for once got to experience the other side of the coin in a chaotic collection of attempts.
With captain Bastian Schweinsteiger inexplicably choosing the goal in front of the Italian fans for the spotkicks to be taken,
Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne sent Neuer the wrong way with the opener, with Toni Kroos keeping his cool to level.
Then the craziness started.
Substitute Simone Zaza delivered such a stuttering run he seemed to confuse himself and fired wildly over the bar.
Thomas Mueller then became the first German to miss in a shootout for 34 years.
Next, Italy defender Andrea Barzagli gave Neuer no chance and Ozil hit a post only for Graziano Pelle to scuff it horribly wide.
Germany substitute Julian Draxler rose to the occasion and converted his kick.
Neuer then saved Leonardo Bonucci’s
second penalty of the evening.
Schweinsteiger strolled up ready to be the hero but sent his effort way over the bar.
Things then settled down in sudden death with three successes for each team.
Neuer then stopped Matteo Darmian’s soft effort and young fullback Jonas Hector made the long march to the spot.
He too struck a poor shot but the ball scraped under Buffon’s body to secure Germany’s first tournament win over Italy in eight attempts. — Reuters