World champions Germany, who had never beaten Italy in their eight previous encounters in major soccer tournaments, broke the jinx at the Euro 2016 quarterfinal here on Saturday through a thrilling penalty shootout.
After 120 minutes of hard-fought action and 18 penalties, Germany won their first competitive game against the Azzurri. German defender Jonas Hector ended the breathtaking duel with a low shot which was inches away from being saved by Italy veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Both sides tied 1-1 after regular time and failed to score in the 30-minute extra time.
Italy’s substitute Lorenzo Insigne stepped in first in the shootout, followed by German midfielder Toni Kroos. Both made it.
A total of nine players from each side came in the shootout. Germany finally won on 6-5.
German big names — Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger — failed, neither did Italy’s Simone Zara, Leonardo Bonucci, Graziano Pelle, and Matteo Darmian.
Italy performed well for the vast majority of the tournament, but in the end they were outdone by Germany that wouldn’t stop fighting.
Germany could have won it after 90 minutes if it wasn’t for Jerome Boateng’s clumsy handball.
In the penultimate match of the quarterfinals, Germany broke the ice in the 65th minute when forward Mario Gomez charged down the left wing and did well to hold up the ball before spinning and teeing up Hector. The wing-back quickly poked a cross over to Ozil. The ball was deflected into the path of the Arsenal midfielder, who beat two defenders to the ball before slotting it past Buffon to make it 1-0.
Italy tied the score in 78th minute when Bonucci stepped up and fired a wonderful penalty shot past the outstretched limbs of Neuer and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The penalty was awarded by German defender Boateng who rose high to deal with a dangerous cross in the box but blocked the ball with a flailing arm, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.
In Round of 16, Italy knocked out holders Spain in fairly convincing fashion, while Germany were simply too good for Slovakia in a 3-0 comfortable win.
Germany coach Joachim Low made just one change to his side with Benedikt Howedes coming into the starting line-up to replace Julian Draxler and transform a back four into a three, with Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector operating as wing-backs.
Italy boss Antonio Conte also made one alteration to his side with Stefano Sturaro replacing the injured Daniele De Rossi.
In the Euro 2012 semifinals, Italy eliminated Germany 2-0. Tonight, Germany took the revenge.
Germany will face either host France or Iceland in the Euro 2016 semis.