Euro 2016: Hector penalty heroics sends Germany through to semifinals, leaving Italy heartbroken
Germany and Italy played out one of the best games of UEFA Euro 2016, as Die Mannschaft trimphed 6-5 on penalties, with Hector scoring the winning penalty. Mesut Ozil and Leonardo Bonucci scored for either side in normal time, with the game ending on a dramatic penalty shootout.
Germany XI: Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Höwedes; Kimmich, Kroos, Khedira, Özil, Hector; Müller, Gomez.
Italy XI : Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, Parolo, Sturaro, Giaccherini, De Sciglio; Eder, Pelle
Joachim Loew had lined up with the same 3-5-2 formation that beat Italy 4-1 in a friendly the last time they met, but this time around this only served to cancel Italy’s 3-5-2 formation as well. In fact, the opening 30 minutes passed without anything of note apart from an injured Khedira going off for Shweinsteiger, as Italy and Germany struggled to create any openings.
Germany’s first shot of the game came in the 41st minute, as Mario Gomes headed a cross from Kimmich over the bar. That only served to wake Italy from their slumber, with Bonucci sending Giaccherini clear with a magnificent long ball, and he crossed for Sturaro in the box, whose shot with the goal at his mercy was deflected off Boateng and went wide.
The referee called a fascinating tactical battle in the first half to an end with the game scoreless.
The second half was a much brighter affair with Italy attacking early, but Germany went close with Muller 10 minutes into the half, with Florenzi putting in an acrobatic clearnace to clear off the line. A spate of yellow cards followed, with Sturaro and Parolo going into the book.
Just as the game looked destined to remain goalless, up popped Germany with a goal out of nowhere. Hector was found on the overlap into the box by Gomes, and his cross took a deflection of a diving Bonucci and fell perfectly for Mesut Ozil to slam home a first-time volley into the net, giving Germany the lead in the 65th minute.
Italy looked increasingly desperate and were afforded a lifeline in with 13 minutes to go, as Jerome Boateng did his best volleyball impression from a cross and the referee pointed to the spot. Leonardo Bonucci stepped up to take the penalty and took it with aplomb, sending Neuer the wrong way while the ball nestled in the bottom corner as Italy celebrated their equaliser in the 78th minute.
De Sciglio went close towards the end of the 90 minutes, but eventually the referee blew the full-time whistle, with both sides going into extra-tim with the score at 1-1.
The first period of extra time passed by without anything of note in an offensive sense, with Pelle and Giaccherini going into the book as the former was ruled out of the semifinals. Germany began the last 15 minutes with two great chances to score, as Draxler sent an overhead kick over the bar from two yards out.
Moments later, Draxler overhit a pass that would have sent Muller clear through on goal, with Loew reacting in frustration on the touchline. The game petered out with the legs tiring with fatigue and the referee called time on the game, sending the quarterfinal to penalties.
Lorenzo Insigne began the penalties with a fine strike, while Toni Kroos scored for Germany as well. However, Simone Zaza and Muller missed both their respective strikes, with both sides still equal. Barzagli scored his with aplomb, while Mesut Ozil saw his efort crash against the post.
Pelle missed a golden chance to give Italy the lead with a terrible penalty, while Draxler scored his stike. Bonucci missed his penalty to offer Schweinsteiger the chance to win, and the German legend screwed his shot well over the bar, to add to the drama as the penalties went to sudden death.
Giaccherini, Hummels, Parolo, Kimmich, De Sciglio and Boateng all scored excellent penalties, while Darmian missed offering Hector the chance, and he obliged – sending Germany through to the semifinals, while Italy were left heartbroken.