Bordeaux | Germany moved into the semi-finals of Euro 2016 but their un-German-like inefficiency in a penalty shootout with Italy almost cost them dear before Jonas Hector kept his head.
Germany missed three penalties before triumphing 6-5 in a rollercoaster 18-penalty shootout as Hector slotted home his kick under the diving Gianluigi Buffon and raced into his teammates’ arms.
They will face the winners of Sunday’s match between host nation France and surprise package Iceland in a semi-final on Thursday.
It’s hard to put it into words, but I am overjoyed that it went in, Hector said.
There weren’t many people left. I knew I had to take one at some point and I had my heart in my mouth.
Germany also shook off the hoodoo against old foes Italy, winning for the first time in nine attempts.
Si, si, si, the curse against Italy is broken, Bild newspaper said.
The Germans maintained a remarkable record of shootout successes — you have to go back to 1976 for the last time they lost on penalties in a major tournament.
Joachim Loew’s side had appeared to be heading for victory after Mesut Ozil lashed into the net to give them a 65th-minute lead, but in a moment of madness Jerome Boateng handled in the area.
Leonardo Bonucci calmly converted the penalty 12 minutes from the end of normal time and it ended 1-1 on 90 minutes.
With no goals in a turgid extra-time, Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger all failed from the spot for Germany, who are usually so reliable from 12 yards.
But after Simone Zaza and Graziano Pelle missed for Italy and Bonucci was denied by Germany ‘keeper Manuel Neuer, Matteo Darmian’s failure to convert the Azzurri’s ninth kick paved the way for Hector to become Germany’s hero.
- Youngsters showed nerve -
Baby-faced Joshua Kimmich, 21, also converted when bigger names missed.
The experienced players missed and the younger guys came through, so that’s quite positive, Loew said.
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