Germany edge through shoot-out to sink Italy and book Euro 2016 semi-final spot
Lee Gormley | July 2, 2016
Germany 1-1 Italy
- Both nations were involved in a tactical battle in opening 40 minutes
- The game finally sprung to life before half-time with chances at both ends
- Game finished scoreless at the break though despite chances
- Mesut Ozil netted opener after 64 minutes for the Germans
- Leonardo Bonucci converted penalty after 78 minutes to level at 1-1
- Extra-time forced as 90 minutes finished at 1-1
- Germany prevailed 6-5 on penalties to book semi-final spot
Germany win penalty shoot-out
Germany booked their place in the Euro 2016 semi-finals with a penalty shoot-out victory over Antonio Conte’s Italy, with the two nations having drawn 1-1 after 90 minutes and neither were able to find a winner in extra-time.
The game began extremely cagey and didn’t spring to life until the second-half, when Mesut Ozil netted after the hour mark before Leonardo Bonucci tucked home a 78th-minute penalty, with Jerome Boateng having been penalised for handling in the area.
Extra-time was forced as the two nations couldn’t be separated at 1-1 after 90 minutes, and it was the Germans who prevailed on spot-kicks to set-up a clash with either host nation France or Iceland, with this having been their sixth consecutive shoot-out success in major tournaments.
Early injury blow for Germany
Conte’s formidable backline and goalkeeper remained unchanged for this clash, with Juventus defensive trio Giorgio Chiellini, Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli guarding clubmate and national skipper Gianluigi Buffon, though midfield protector Daniele De Rossi was ruled out through injury.
The Italians were happy to let their opponents dominate possession in the opening exchanges, not being in any hurry to press high up the pitch, though they earned a corner after three minutes which Stefano Sturaro got on the end of to send a shot well wide.
Die Mannschaft were swiftly moving the ball around, with Toni Kroos again the midfield instigator. Though, the Azzurri were holding strong as widemen Alessandro Florenzi and Mattia De Sciglio pulled back when defending to make it a solid five in their rearguard.
With only 13 minutes gone at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Joachim Low was forced into an early switch after Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira picked up yet another knock, and it was Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger that was brought on in his place.
The Red Devils midfielder instantly took the captain’s armband from shot stopper Manuel Neuer. He was then introduced to what was a real tactical battle so far, with Italian frontmen Graziano Pelle and Eder struggling to make an impact against Mats Hummels and Boateng.
Close chances at both ends
The Germans had the ball in the net after 26 minutes but substitute Schweinsteiger saw his effort ruled out for having pushed De Sciglio to the floor in the build-up to his strong header, giving a beaten Buffon a reprieve.
AC Milan full back De Sciglio then capitalised on a mistake from Benedikt Howedes moments later, as he burst forward and latched onto a loose pass on the left flank. The wideman sent in a seemingly dangerous delivery towards a lurking Pelle, but Boateng was able to quickly get back and clear any threat.
At the other end, Buffon nearly made a rare error to gift Mario Gomez a half-chance on goal, as the veteran Italian number one took two attempts to finally get his hands fully on a deflected Jonas Hector cross from wide left.
A better opportunity came from a lofted Joshua Kimmich delivery on the opposite wing on 40 minutes, as the Bayern Munich youngster found a towering Gomez, who’s header went narrowly off target. Germany were then opened up at the other end, with Emanuele Giaccherini getting through on the left and picking out Sturaro.
The incoming midfielder’s shot was crowded out by many diving German bodies, though Neuer had been left helpless on the ground, with this coming moments after Thomas Muller failed to convert from inside the Italian penalty area before half-time was reached.
Match springs to life in second-half
If the first period was anything to go by then another quarter-final looked to be heading for extra-time on French soil, with neither side yet willing to take any risks going forward and come out of their respective rigid shapes.
Although, the second-half was started swiftly by the Italians, as De Sciglio found himself in space on the left wing, and he launched a low-driven cross towards Giaccherini and Eder; but Germany were able to get the danger cleared again.
Before this encounter 15 of the 18 goals between the two nations at major tournaments had come after half-time, and that looked likely of continuing as the Azzurri seemed to be more willing to get bodies further forward in this period.
With 53 minutes gone, Muller’s long wait for a European Championship goal went on. The Bayern poacher had his left-footed shot from inside the Italian penalty box acrobatically cleared off the line by a high-flying Florenzi, following strong hold-up play from Gomez.
The game had finally come alive before the hour mark, with both nations now actually pushing in search of the opener, and De Sciglio was one player that got carried away with the rise in tension, as he was booked for a challenge on Kimmich.
Italy’s full back was therefore set to miss the semi-final, with Marco Parolo following suit with a caution for flying in on Gomez.
Ozil nets opener before Bonucci penalty
With 64 minutes gone it was Arsenal playmaker Ozil that finally broke the deadlock, as he tucked home from close-range after a deflected Hector cross from the left flank. The full back made a galloping run past a flat-footed Italy rearguard to send his cross in, following great play from Gomez to keep the move alive.
Low’s outfit only grew in confidence since taking the lead and Ozil was beginning to rip Italy to shreds, as the pass-master played Gomez through on goal but Buffon denied the targetman’s unorthodox shot with a superb reflex save.
Gomez’s night came to an end moments after having his effort saved by the strong hand of Buffon, picking up an injury and being replaced by tricky winger Julian Draxler.
Italy were granted a way back into the game after 76 minutes when Boateng conceded a penalty for handball, after the ball struck his high flailing arms when defending a cross. Centre back Bonucci stepped up and dispatched into the bottom left corner to level the game, despite Neuer diving the right way.
Extra-time needed in quarter-final
Hummels was the latest to pick up a late cautioning and was to miss the semis if his nation reached it, as 90 minutes was reached with the sides still level at 1-1 to force another half hour of extra-time in Bordeaux.
The first 15 minutes saw few clear-cut chances, with Boateng and Muller having long-range efforts to no avail while Germany enjoyed much possession. But, the second saw Draxler come close in the six-yard box as the Azzurri defence was surprisingly caught sleeping.
A draw after 120 minutes meant Germany have still never beaten Italy at a major international tournament during the course of play. Then, it was time for another tournament penalty shoot-out.
Lorenzo Insigne, Kroos, Barzagli, Draxler, Hummels, Parolo, Kimmich, De Sciglio and Boateng successfully converted from 12 yards for their respective nations. While, Simone Zaza, Muller, Ozil, Pelle, Bonucci, Schweinsteiger and Matteo Darmian all missed, with Hector capping off a 6-5 penalties triumph for Germany.
Germany’s shoot-out success means they will now face the winner of France versus Iceland, with the Nordic nation 15/2 with Coral to cause an upset and overcome the hosts in normal time on Sunday night.