After two hours of clever, often dominating but in the end fruitless play, Italy found the answer against England.
Alessandro Diamanti scored the decisive kick Sunday to send Italy through to the European Championship semifinals with a 4-2 win in the shootout following a 0-0 tie with England in Kiev, Ukraine.
Italy will play Germany in the semifinals on Thursday in Warsaw, Poland. Defending champion Spain plays Portugal on Wednesday in Donetsk, Ukraine.
“We deserved this victory,” Diamanti said. “The (shootout win) rewarded our dominance during the match. It’s only fair, we played a great match and battled from the first to the last minute.”
Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo – with an audacious slow chip-shot down the middle of the goal – and Antonio Nocerino earlier converted during the shootout. Captain Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney converted for England.
The difference: Ashley Young hit the crossbar with England’s third attempt, and Ashley Cole’s attempt was stopped by a diving Gianluigi Buffon.
For England, it was yet another exit from a major tournament in the quarterfinals after a penalty shootout. England lost to Portugal in the same manner at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
“It’s obviously a hard way to go out,” England forward Rooney said. “And it’s maybe happened too many times now.”
England briefly led the shootout after Riccardo Montolivo shot wide on Italy’s second attempt.
“We have done the country proud, but again we go home with heartbreak and it’s difficult to take,” Gerrard said.
The match ended 0-0 after 120 minutes of play. The Italians twice hit the post.
Nocerino scored from Diamanti’s cross in the 115th minute but was offside.
Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger could be doubtful for Thursday’s Euro 2012 semifinal against Italy because of a lingering right ankle injury.