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 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.
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Parker was withdrawn for the uninspiring Jordan Henderson for some fresh impetus but England were continuously pegged back.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 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.
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