| KRAKOW, Poland, June 23
KRAKOW, Poland, June 23 Italy and England, who
meet in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Sunday, have dreadful
records in penalty shootouts with the Azzurri's 2006 World Cup
final triumph a rare bright spot in an otherwise sorry tale of
The chances that the game in Kiev goes the distance appear
quite high with players and pundits all saying the two
defensively-minded sides are evenly matched. The average
bookmaker odds on the first 0-0 of the tournament are just 11-2.
Their painful experience with spot kicks began in the 1990
World Cup when both teams were eliminated in semi-finals which
have become etched in the tortured psyches of every Italian and
English soccer fan.
Memories of Chris Waddle's kick sailing over the bar against
Germany in Turin still give grown men nightmares while Roberto
Donadoni began his doomed relationship with penalties by missing
for co-hosts Italy against Argentina.
Italy went one stage further at the 1994 World Cup in the
United States but it only made the despair greater as Roberto
Baggio, the divine ponytail, sent his kick into the Pasadena sky
as Brazil won the final on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Euro 96 in England promised much for the host nation after
they actually beat Spain on spot-kicks in the last eight but
another semi-final meeting with Germany went to penalties
following a 1-1 draw and again ended in heartbreak.
Gareth Southgate's scuffed effort was easily saved by
Andreas Koepke and the mood in England matched the grey shirts
their fallen heroes wore that day.
The misery continued two years later when Paul Ince and
David Batty failed from the spot as Argentina prevailed on
penalties in the World Cup second round after a 2-2 draw.
Italy were not to be outdone when it came to penalty
incompetence and lost to hosts and eventual winners France in a
shootout in the quarter-finals following a forgettable 0-0 draw.
The Azzurri suddenly worked out how to take penalties at
Euro 2000 and won the semi-final 3-1 on spot-kicks - but only
against co-hosts the Netherlands who also have a poor shootout
record. Italy lost 2-1 to France in the final.
It was England's turn to revert to type in Euro 2004 with a
shootout defeat by hosts Portugal in the quarter-finals when
David Beckham skied his kick way up into the Estadio da Luz and
blamed a dodgy penalty spot.
Portugal were again England's nemesis two years later at the
World Cup with another quarter-final defeat on penalties as
Wayne Rooney was sent off and Jamie Carragher missed his
twice-taken kick in a 3-1 shootout loss following a 0-0 draw.
The 2006 finals in Germany were, of course, the crowning
glory for Italy with Fabio Grosso confidently striking in the
winning penalty as Marcello Lippi's men scored all five spot-
kicks to edge out France after a 1-1 draw.
The Italians penalty luck did not last, however, and a Euro
2008 last-eight elimination by eventual winners Spain came
courtesy of a 0-0 draw and a 4-2 shootout defeat when Daniele De
Rossi and Antonio Di Natale, who could play on Sunday, missed.
Donadoni, then Italy coach, had succumbed to the dreaded
spot-kicks yet again and the defeat cost him his job.
Something will have to give if Sunday's game goes to
penalties but it could be a very long night.
(Additional reporting by Tim Collings; Editing by Ed Osmond)