To begin with, after topping the group I thought England would build on it and would at least reach the semi-finals. That, however, was not to be.
Ever since I have started watching football, I have never seen Italy dominating any game just as much as they did against England. The Azzurri dominated the game from the word go and never looked back.
England were outplayed and outwitted for the entire game and never looked like threatening the Italian goal, barred the Johnson attempt early in the first half.
The stats speak for themselves. England saw only 32% of the possession and managed just 6 efforts at goal. Italy had 23.
England defended superbly, however only defending does not win matches, and as a believer of “offense is the best defense”, I have always been critical about defensive displays. They disappointed me with the kind of display they had put in. They looked more interested in taking the match into penalties rather than scoring and winning the match in regular time.
England has a very poor record in penalty shootouts and this night was no different as they went down 4-2, after Ashley Young hit the bar with his effort and Ashley Cole had his penalty saved by Buffon. Hodgson’s men have no one but themselves to blame, as they let Italy dictate the terms and had it not been for Balotelli’s misses Italy would have easily won the match 3-0 in the regular time.
Liverpool’s Johnson and Gerrard started for Roy Hodgson while Henderson and Carroll came in as substitutes for Parker and Welbeck respectively. Here is an analysis of how it all went for the Reds against Italy in the Olympic Stadium, Kiev.
Glen JOHNSON – Glen Johnson had one of the best games at Euro 2012. He was the best performer for the Three Lions on the night. Defense and attack, he did everything he was asked to do. Though guilty of missing a golden chance to score in the opening 10 minutes, he did have a great game.
He moved forward well, and he was one of the best players on the pitch in the first half. In the second half, he stayed back a little more, and he was busy defending the Italian onslaught.
Johnson defended well, and he did a good job of closing down the right side for England. If he would’ve been able to bury his shot early on, or if Rooney finished Johnson’s wonderful cross, there’s a good chance the Liverpool right-back would’ve been the man of the match. He is often derided for being defensively suspect but he managed to hold his own against the Italians and the likes of Balzaretti and Daniele de Rossi found very little joy going down Johnson’s flank.
Player rating: 8/10
Steven GERRARD – Consistency has been the key for Gerrard in this tournament. He had three great games in the Group stages and the match against Italy was no different from the others. He performed excellently in the early stages with a great array of passing. However as the game continued he was forced to defend more and spent most of the time in his own half. The Italian dominance forced him to make mistakes and he was guilty of giving away possession cheaply on few occasions. Gerrard showed great desire and hunger to win the ball back and did well going forward, ran all over the pitch all game and England looked most dangerous when he was linking up well with Rooney in the first half.
Player rating: 7.5/10
Andy CARROLL – Came on in the 60th minute to replace Danny Welbeck, Carroll used his size well enough after coming on with England trying to play everything up to him. Gave England a focal point in attack and also aided the defense with some towering headers from set-pieces. Made an impact after coming on, using his physicality to try to intimidate the Italian defense but ultimately did not get enough service and main contribution was making some important defensive headers late in extra time. Carroll did well upfront and it was clear the Italian defense could not handle his physical presence. His ball control was superb and did very well to bring under control the long balls punted forward towards him from the defense. He was easily the biggest threat England had, once he came on and have gone a long way to proving his detractors wrong with this display. The striker’s link up play was impressive and his headed lay off almost set up Wayne Rooney for a winner. This tournament has done him the world of good.
Player rating: 7/10
Jordan HENDERSON – Came on for Scott Parker in the first half of extra time to add some fresh legs to midfield but he failed to make an impact. Had 30 minutes to make an impact on the game but struggled to do what he was asked to do. He didn’t help the defense neither was he successful in linking up play with Gerrard. He seems to have found the level too high. It was a largely forgettable cameo by the Liverpool man who barely had a touch of the ball in the game. Very little time to analyze, but did not do anything worth noticing as well. To sum it up, he was largely disappointing.
Player rating: 4/10
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