Germany lose their penalty perfection but still win

By Reuters/Karolos Grohmann   July 3, 2016 | 08:14 am GMT+7

Germany missed more penalties in 10 minutes on Saturday than in their six previous shootouts spanning 40 years yet still found a way to emerge victorious and end a 54-year tournament jinx over Italy to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals

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 semi-final victory over France.

Italys Graziano Pelle, Andrea Barzagli and Simone Zaza react after the penalty shootout. Photo by Reuters/Darren Staples Livepic

Italy's Graziano Pelle, Andrea Barzagli and Simone Zaza react after the penalty shootout. Photo by Reuters/Darren Staples Livepic

On Saturday they wasted three, yet advanced as 6-5 winners after Italy failed with four in a marathon 18-shot decider that featured some horrendous misses after the game had finished 1-1 at the end of extra time.

Mesut Ozil had put Germany ahead in the 65th minute before a penalty from Leonardo Bonucci forced the extra period. When that failed to produce a further goal, the odds swung heavily in Germany's favour.

Since Hoeness's miss the Germans had become the penalty masters, subsequently winning four out of four in the World Cup and beating England in their only other Euros shootout in the 1996 semi-finals until Saturday.

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, however, Germany's fans in Bordeaux for once got to experience the other side of the coin in a chaotic collection of attempts.

"You can't just assume that if it's penalties, Germany advance," their frazzled goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.

"I have never experienced penalties like that. I don't even know how many there were. I think they just kept shooting them into the middle. Fortunately, I was able to hold one."

CRAZINESS STARTS

With captain Bastian Schweinsteiger inexplicably choosing the goal in front of the Italian fans for the spot kicks 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 had been sent on in the final seconds precisely for his penalty-taking ability but delivered such a stuttering run that he seemed to confuse himself and, with his first touch of the night, fired wildly over the bar.

Thomas Mueller, who has never scored a goal at a European Championship but has 10 to his name in World Cup tournaments, then became the first German to miss in a shootout for 34 years when his effort was saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Italy defender Andrea Barzagli gave Neuer no chance and Ozil proceeded to hit a post as Germany looked to be sliding towards elimination at their own game. Ozil had also missed a penalty in the round of 16 against Slovakia.

Italian striker Pelle oozed confidence as he indicated to Neuer that he planned to chip the ball, only to scuff it horribly wide.

DUTIFUL NEUER

Germany substitute Julian Draxler, who had made way for one more defender in the starting lineup, rose to the occasion and converted his kick.

Neuer then did his duty and saved Bonucci's second penalty of the evening - meaning both players who scored in normal time had missed.

Germany captain Bastian 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 - including some sort of redemption for Germany defender Jerome Boateng who gave away the penalty in normal time with an inexplicable handball.

Neuer then stopped Matteo Darmian's soft effort to finally give his team another chance to win the match.

Young fullback Jonas Hector made the long march to the spot and he too struck a poor shot but this time the ball scraped under Buffon's body and into the net to secure Germany's first tournament win over Italy after eight failed attempts.

They now have a semi-final against hosts France or Iceland.

"It was a drama -- extra-time and with two sides on the highest tactical level," said Germany manager Joachim Loew. "The penalties missed were even more dramatic. We were lucky."

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