Penalty kings Germany advance
BORDEAUX, France (AP):
Jonas Hector scored the winning penalty as Germany beat Italy 6-5 in a wild shoot-out to reach the European Championship semi-finals yesterday.
After the quarter-final finished 1-1 after extra time, Matteo Darmian had his penalty saved with the 17th attempt of the shoot-out to give Hector the chance to earn Germany a first competitive win over Italy in nine tries.
The left back slotted his kick beyond Gianluigi Buffon and the world champions were in their sixth straight semi-final at a major tournament.
Germany have won six of their last seven spot kicks since losing the final of Euro 1976 to Czechoslovakia.
Mesut Ozil gave Germany the lead in the 65th minute, breaking open a tactical stalemate in Bordeaux by racing onto Hector's deflected cross to steer in a finish from eight metres.
Leonardo Bonucci equalised by converting a penalty in the 78th, after Jerome Boateng handled Giorgio Chiellini's flicked header, but Bonucci was one of the players to fail in the penalty shoot-out.
First-half substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger missed the opportunity to clinch victory for Germany in the shoot-out by blazing over his attempt. Hector made no mistake minutes later.
It was a fixture worthy of the final itself - Italy and Germany are Europe's most successful football nations - but the game didn't live up to its promise.
Dropping deep when not in possession, Italy's defensive set-up stifled the Germans and made for a highly tactical contest of few clear-cut chances until Ozil's goal.
Hector ran onto Mario Gomez's inside pass and sent over a cross that deflected right into the path of the inrushing Ozil. The Arsenal playmaker calmly steered the ball home.
It was the first time the Germans had breached Italy's famed back line all game, but they couldn't hold on and finally conceded a goal at the tournament to Bonucci.
Extra time passed without significant incident, meaning penalties for the second time in the quarter-finals - after Portugal beat Poland.