England ‘Heartbroken’ – Gerrard

Steven Gerrard admitted England were “heartbroken” following the penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy, which ended their Euro 2012 campaign.

England battled gamely in the quarterfinal in Kiev, but were second best for most of the contest, and could count themselves fortunate to take the game into extra time.

“I feel for the players who, from day one, have given everything, and today we did the same,” Gerrard told BBC Sport. “But, again, we’re going home with heartbreak, which is hard to take.”

Despite Italy’s continued dominance, they could not find a way through England’s resolute backline, and the match went to penalties, much to the chagrin of fans who had placed online bets on a finish in regulation time.

Roy Hodgson’s men were offered a window of hope, when Riccardo Montolivo hit his penalty wide, but that was soon slammed shut as Ashley Young and Ashley Cole failed to convert. Alessandro Diamanti scored the decisive penalty to seal a 4-2 shoot-out victory for the Azzurri, and send England home.

It was the sixth time England have been eliminated on penalties in a major tournament. Gerrard bemoaned his country’s luck when it mattered.

“Everyone’s been great in training, every time we’ve come out, I think we’ve done the country proud,” said the England captain. “This time I thought we might have the bit of luck we needed but it wasn’t to be. Credit to Italy, they are fantastic team, and they got the luck in the shoot-out.”

The victory was no less than Italy deserved, following an impressive performance in ball retention and pressing.
Daniele De Rossi and Diamanti both hit the post with shots, while De Rossi and Mario Balotelli were guilty of spurning gilt-edged chances. Antonio Nocerino also had an effort ruled out for offside, late in normal time.

Italy will now face Germany in Warsaw in the semi-finals, on Thursday. Die Mannschaft are 5/6 favourites in the soccer betting tips to clinch the tie.