Who would have thought the Germans would struggle to find the net in a penalty shootout?
Germany moved into the semi-finals of Euro 2016 on Saturday but their un-German-like inefficiency in a penalty shootout with Italy almost cost them dear before Jonas Hector kept his head.
Germany also shook off the hoodoo against old foes Italy, winning for the first time in nine attempts.
The world champions missed three penalties before triumphing 6-5 in a rollercoaster 18-penalty shootout as Hector slotted home his kick under the diving Gianluigi Buffon and raced into his teammates’ arms.
They will face the winners of Sunday’s match between host nation France and surprise package Iceland in a semi-final on Thursday.
Hector, the left back who scored the winning penalty, said:
“It’s hard to put it into words, but I am overjoyed that it went in. There weren’t many people left. I knew I had to take one at some point and I had my heart in my mouth.”
“Si, si, si, the curse against Italy is broken,” Bild newspaper said.
The Germans maintained a remarkable record of shootout successes — you have to go back to 1976 for the last time they lost on penalties in a major tournament.
Joachim Loew’s side had appeared to be heading for victory after Mesut Ozil lashed into the net to give them a 65th-minute lead, but in a moment of madness Jerome Boateng handled in the area.
Leonardo Bonucci calmly converted the penalty 12 minutes from the end of normal time and it ended 1-1 on 90 minutes.
With no goals in a turgid extra-time, Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger all failed from the spot for Germany, who are usually so reliable from 12 yards.
But after Simone Zaza and Graziano Pelle missed for Italy and Bonucci was denied by Germany ‘keeper Manuel Neuer, Matteo Darmian’s failure to convert the Azzurri’s ninth kick paved the way for Hector to become Germany’s hero.
Italy’s campaign had shown promise with wins against Belgium and over reigning champions Spain in the last 16, but like so many sides before them they were undone on penalties by Germany.
— Italy (@azzurri) July 2, 2016
Coach Antonio Conte said:
“I’m very proud of what the team achieved here. The only regret is the penalty kicks. But for commitment to the shirt, I can’t fault them.”
The game had been billed as the pick of the quarter-finals, but large spells of the game in Bordeaux were uneventful.
Germany talisman Schweinsteiger again started on the bench but was introduced after quarter of an hour to replace the injured Sami Khedira.
The opener arrived on 65 minutes as Gomez pounced on some slack defending by Alessandro Florenzi before finding Hector in space. The full-back’s attempted cutback came off Bonucci but fell to Ozil, who fired past Buffon from close range.
Germany could have gone further ahead when Ozil found Gomez in space with a great chip, but the striker’s outrageous backheel was superbly saved by Buffon and the offside flag came up anyway.
This time Euro is Full of surprises every single match is being breath taking and fans literally go nail biting.