Andrea Pirlo’s Cheeky Penalty Kick That Demoralized England And Revitalized Italy (Video & GIF)
With only one spot in the Euro 2012 semi-finals still up for grabs, England and Italy took the field in Kiev, Ukraine on Sunday during their quarter-final match-up for a chance to secure that final spot. After 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, most soccer experts would have told you that the Italian squad was much more worthy of that semi-final birth, as they owned 65% of the ball possession during the game, and they out-shot their opponents 35-9 in total shots, and 20-4 in shots on goal.
It was a dominating performance by the Azzurri, but as we have seen time and time again in the game of soccer, sometimes a dominating performance doesn’t result in a win. Especially when the team being dominated manages to do a terrific job blocking shots and protecting their 18-yard box.
It appeared as though that storyline would play out on the pitch once again after England buried their first two penalty kicks and Riccardo Montolivo missed wide left during Italy’s second shot. But with the Azzurri trailing 2-1, the pressure was on Italy’s world class midfielder, Andrea Pirlo, and he delivered this cheeky effort.
With Joe Hart dancing around and “making strange movements,” as Pirlo put it following the game, the 33-year-old Juventus star took advantage, as he watched the overzealous Manchester City keeper dive to his right before gently chipping the ball into the center of the goal.
That seemed to turn the tide for the Azzurri, as they buried their final two shots, while watching England’s next two shooters, Ashley Young and Ashley Cole, fail to convert on their attempts, giving Italy the 4-2 victory in penalties.
With the win, the Italians will now face a German squad that entered the tournaments as favorites to take it all. The last time these two teams met in a meaningful competition, it was Italy scoring two late goals in extra time to defeat the Germans 2-0 in front of their home crowd during the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Should these two teams find themselves going beyond extra time during their upcoming encounter on Thursday, you can bet German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be ready for Pirlo’s panenka after watching this gif over and over again.