England have been eliminated from Euro 2012 on penalties by Italy, who will face Germany in next week's second semi-final.

Ashley Young smashed the crossbar and Ashley Cole's spot-kick was saved by Gianluigi Buffon after Riccardo Montolivo had missed for Italy. Former West Ham United striker Alessandrom Diamanti stroked home the winning penalty past Joe Hart for a 4-2 victory.

diamanti
Diamanti wins it

Progress would have belied the Three Lions' performance since Roy Hodgson's side were outplayed throughout the 120 minutes and struggled to retain possession, relying on last-ditch defending and a disciplined defence.

Italy dominated the match aside from the opening 25 minutes, when England enjoyed an auspicious spell of domination. However Daniele de Rossi's sliced volley in the opening minutes struck Hart's right-hand post was an ominous signal before Glenn Johnson spooned en effort into Buffon's hands six yards out.

Mario Balotelli was lively in attack for Italy, but the ingenuity of the awesome Andrea Pirlo and his Juventus sidekick Claudio Marchisio helped the Azzurri get in behind the opponents' defence with alarming regularity. Danny Welbeck hit a great chance over up the other end while John Terry's last ditch block prevented Balotelli from scoring when one-on-one.

Hodgson's team offered little. Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard's 30-something legs tired quickly after the interval, but the arrival of Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott at the expense of Welbeck and James Milner didn't improve England's attacking pedigree.

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  • Italy players celebrate after the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

  • Italian forward Mario Balotelli controls

    Italian forward Mario Balotelli controls the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi (L)

    Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi (L) vies with English midfielder Steven Gerrard during the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages)

  • England v Italy - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final

    KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24: Wayne Rooney of England heads towards goal as Ignazio Abate of Italy challenges during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

  • Italian forward Antonio Cassano reacts d

    Italian forward Antonio Cassano reacts during the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Italian headcoach Cesare Prandelli atten

    Italian headcoach Cesare Prandelli attends the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Italian headcoach Cesare Prandelli atten

    Italian headcoach Cesare Prandelli attends the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • England v Italy - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final

    KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24: Wayne Rooney of England and Ignazio Abate of Italy challenge for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • England v Italy - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final

    KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24: Mario Balotelli of Italy and Joleon Lescott of England battle for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

  • English defender John Terry (R) and Ital

    English defender John Terry (R) and Italian forward Mario Balotelli eye the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • English forward Wayne Rooney controls th

    English forward Wayne Rooney controls the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Antonio Cassano (left) and England's Steven Gerrard (right) battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Daniele De Rossi (right) and England's Wayne Rooney battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England's Danny Welbeck (left) and Italy's Andrea Barzagli (right) battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Mario Balotelli (right) and England's Joleon Lescott battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England manager Roy Hodgson in thoughtful mood on touchline

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England's Scott Parker (left) and Ashley Young (right) look on as Italy's Claudio Marchisio (centre) runs with the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Mario Balotelli gestures in frustration

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Claudio Marchisio (right) and England's Scott Parker (left) battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Andrea Pirlo and England's Danny Welbeck (left) battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Andrea Barzagli (right) and England's Danny Welbeck battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    John Terry, England

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England's Wayne Rooney (centre) has a chance on goal as Italy's Ignazio Abate (left) battles for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England's Joleon Lescott slides in on Italy's Antonio Cassano

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (left) saves a shot from England's Glen Johnson (second right)

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England's Scott Parker (right) and Italy's Mario Balotelli battle for the ball

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (left) saves a shot from England's Glen Johnson (right)

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    Italy's Mario Balotelli is tackled by England's Scott Parker (right)

  • Soccer - UEFA Euro 2012 - Quarter Final - England v Italy - Olympic Stadium

    England's Scott Parker (right) and Italy's Mario Balotelli battle for the ball

  • Joe Hart of England is consoled by Mario Balotelli of Italy after defeat in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

  • Joe Hart of England is consoled by Mario Balotelli of Italy after defeat in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

  • England's Ashley Cole (left) is consoled by teammate Steven Gerrard after missing his penalty

  • Italian midfielder Riccardo Montolivo reacts after missing a penalty in the nets of English goalkeeper Joe Hart during a penalty shoot out at the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • English headcoach Roy Hodgson (CL) shakes hands with Italian defender Andrea Barzagli after Italy won the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages)

  • English midfielder Ashley Young (C) is comforted by teammates after he missed his penalty during a penalty shoot out at the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Wayne Rooney of England applauds the fans after defeat in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

  • English defender Ashley Cole (C) is comforted by teammates after he missed his penalty during a penalty shoot out at the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Steven Gerrard of England (C) looks dejected after defeat in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

  • Steven Gerrard of England (C) looks dejected after defeat in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

  • England manager, Roy Hodgson looks dejected after the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

  • Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Italian midfielder Alessandro Diamanti celebrate after winning the Euro 2012 football championships quarter-final match England vs Italy on June 24, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/GettyImages)

Cesare Prandelli's side exerted more pressure and missed a flurry of chances early on in the second 45. De Rossi mis-hit an effort wide when unattended as England's defensive line failed to push up quickly enough, before the Roman's shot moments later was pushed out by Hart to club team-mate Balotelli. The striker was thwarted while Montolivo lofted the loose ball over.

Parker was withdrawn for the uninspiring Jordan Henderson for some fresh impetus but England were continuously pegged back. Terry and partner Joleon Lescott gallantly defended, whereas Italy's equivalents were hardly called upon to do so, and so the stalemate ensured extra-time.

Diamanti, a substitute for Antonio Cassano, overhit a cross 10 minutes in to the additional 30 and struck the same post as De Rossi. The remainder of the extra period was played cautiously, as the Azzurri were unable to pick England's lock as their stout defence earned penalties.

Their seventh ever shootout dawned, and the story was a familiar one.

Just like their last 12-yard defeat to Portugal at the 2006 World Cup, the opponents missed first. After Balotelli and Gerrard scored, Montolivo fired wide past Hart's right-hand post. Wayne Rooney, on the fringes of the game, stepped up to then give the Three Lions the lead.

But then Pirlo's audacious falling leaf penalty, recalling Antonín Panenka's winning kick in the 1976 European Championship final, levelled the score and its coolness flustered Young, who smashed the crossbar.

Antonio Nocerino then sent Hart the wrong way prior to Cole - who had only missed one penalty in six shootouts - stepped up. His stuttered run-up culminated in a tame effort to Buffon's left, who saved comfortably.

buffon
Buffon denies Cole

And so the stage was set for Diamanti. Like Viorel Moldovan and Helder Postiga, another Premier League reject could contribute to England's dismissal from a major tournament. He coolly passed the ball into the net to send Italy into the last four at the Euros for the first time since 2000.