‘Tension’ of occasion too much says Roy

Simon Stone

ROY Hodgson insists no amount of practice can prepare you for the trauma of a penalty shoot-out.

Once again this morning, England are coming to terms with their failure from the spot.

Last night's Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat to Italy means they have now bowed out of six tournaments on penalties, the last four of which have come at the quarter-final stage.

This time, Ashley Young and Ashley Cole were the men who missed, condemning England to a 4-2 defeat after the match had finished goalless at the Olympic Stadium.

“It has become an obsession for us in English football,” Hodgson said. “They'd all done extremely well in practice but you can't reproduce the tension, the occasion, the nervousness.”

Andrea Pirlo's nerveless effort, chipping Joe Hart as the England keeper dived in anticipation, was worthy of winning the contest on its own.

And, in truth, Italy should have had the game wrapped up well before that as Pirlo toyed with England.

Instead, with Mario Balotelli profligate and Daniele de Rossi firing against a post in the opening stages, England clung on even though they were comprehensively outplayed.

Their next match is against Italy too, in an August friendly to be played in Bern.

After that comes a testing World Cup qualification programme, in which Hodgson is confident England will excel.

“I've been very happy with what I've seen with this group of players and the way they've responded to the demands of an England shirt,” said Hodgson.

“They've shown they're capable of stepping up to the plate.

“They're bitterly disappointed they couldn't take it one step further, but we've got good young payers coming through and this experience has been important for them.

“We've also got players of experience in John Terry, Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott and Steven Gerrard who have shown they're more than capable of seeing us through a tournament like this and can do so in qualifying as well for the next World Cup."