England's penalty shoot-out misery continued in Kiev as they crashed out of Euro 2012 4-2 on penalties after the score against Italy was tied 0-0 after extra-time.
Italy dominated for large spells of the 120 minutes prior to the spot-kicks and will feel they should have comfortably booked a semi-final showdown with Germany before it got to that stage.
However, after Italy's Riccardo Montolivo was the first to miss from the spot, Ashley Young and Ashley Cole went on to miss to send the Italians through 4-2 as the Three Lions' dismal run in major tournament penalty shoot-outs continued.
Germany and Italy will revive memories of dramatic tournament semifinal encounters while Spain find Iberian rivals Portugal barring their path to the final in a Euro 2012 last four which accurately reflects the balance of power in European football.
The four remaining teams have produced over the group stage and quarterfinals the best football of the tournament, and although none have been consistent throughout, all deserve to be playing for a place in the final in Kiev on Sunday.
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England made a shaky start to proceedings when Joe Hart sliced straight out of play within the opening minute. Meanwhile, all Italy's early possession came through their playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
Federico Balzaretti sent in a dangerous early cross for the Italians early on, before Daniele De Rossi thumped the post with a curling effort after just four minutes.
England had a glorious chance to take the lead after five minutes, however, when Glen Johnson drifted into the box, but Gianluigi Buffon produced a wonderful save to deny the Liverpool man at close range.
England had another fine chance after 11 minutes when Wayne Rooney searched out Danny Welbeck in the box, but Leonardo Bonucci made a fine challenge, before Scott Parker fired wide moments later.
Antonio Cassano struck high for Italy after 22 minutes, while Mario Balotelli was denied by a fantastic challenge from John Terry after 26 minutes.
Balotelli again came close after 32 minutes, but his strike was collected by his Manchester City teammate Hart.
Italy continued to dominate possession as the half advanced, but the match entered the break at 0-0.
England started the second period on the front-foot and James Milner might have found Rooney in the box, but his cross just evaded the striker.
Italy passed up the chance of the match moments later, however, when De Rossi somehow missed from barely three yards out.
Italy passed up two more glorious chances to take the lead when Balotelli missed from close range, before Riccardo Montolivo fired over.
Balotelli again came close on the hour mark with an overhead kick as he continued to waste chance after chance.
England's best chance of the second period came to Ashley Young after 65 minutes, but he struck into the ground as it drifted wide of the post.
Italy continued to dominate possession as the second period advanced, with Pirlo running the midfield. Rooney had a glorious chance for England after 77 minutes, but he just could not make contact with a Gerrard cross.
Both sides made changes as the last 10 minutes approached, and Italy came closest to winning it in normal time when Antonio Nocerino advanced on goal, but Johnson made a telling block to clear the danger.
Rooney had the final chance in stoppage time at the end of the 90, but his overhead kick drifted over the bar.
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Italy started extra-time on the attack and Nocerino fired over from distance early on. It continued to be one-way traffic in the opening period of extra-time, with England seemingly playing for penalties.
Alessandro Diamanti struck the post with a cross in the closest chance of the first period of added time.
As expected, Italy started the second half of extra-time on the attack and Diamanti just overcooked a cross with 18 mins on the clock.
The pressure was relentless as the end of the match approached, with Balotelli striking a free-kick over the bar from distance. Meanwhile, Diamanti clipped over from inside the box.
Italy then had a goal disallowed five minutes from the end when Nocerino was ruled offside when he headed home inside the box.
Italy just could not force that elusive strike in the latter stages, and the match entered the dreaded penalty shootout.
Balotelli slotted home Italy's first penalty, and Gerrard followed suit for England. Next up for Italy was Montolivo, and he fired wide.
England took the lead with a penalty from Rooney as they moved 2-1 ahead on the night. Pirlo dispatched a wonderful penalty down the middle against Hart to level it at 2-2.
Young then missed for England as the penalties remained level at 2-2 with three penalties apiece. Nocerino cooly slotted home to send Italy ahead, and Cole missed as Italy gained the advantage.
It was former West Ham midfielder Diamanti who slotted home with the final penalty to send Italy into the semi-finals against Germany.
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