Farewell, Fair Cruelty...

Of all the ways to lose a football match, a penalty shootout is probably the most cruel and the hardest to bear... but England proved themselves masters of the art as they bowed out of a major international competition, once again, from the spot in front of goal. They and Italy, the two teams still in Krakow for the European Championships, met on Sunday night in the last quarter-final match of the tournament. The other three games had all ended after normal time - with victories for Germany over Greece (4-2), Portuagal over the Czech Republic (1-0) and Spain over France (2-0). Only the England v Italy game required extra time when the score stood at 0-0 after 90 minutes. Half an hour later neither side had made a breakthrough, though unbiased fans would probably agree that Italy really should have settled the game long before it came to a shoot-out. Ultimately, they did prevail, winning 4-2 on penalties. The England squad arrived back in Krakow from Kiev early on Monday morning, and were already packing by lunchtime. Reports in the British press suggest they will fly back to the UK on Monday evening - leaving Italy as the only Krakow-based team still in the competition. They will play Germany in the second semi-final, in Warsaw, on June 28. The other semi will be between Portugal and Spain, the day before. Both matches kick off at 8.45pm.


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