New Delhi: Germany defeated Italy 6-5 in a marathon shootout featuring 18 penalties to finally end their jinx against their old rivals in major tournaments and reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals on Saturday. Jonas Hector struck the winning penalty in a marathon shootout where the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller failed to convert their penalty kicks.
The match ended 1-1 at the end of extra-time as Leonardo Bonucci`s penalty cancelled out Mesut Ozil`s opener for Germany. The prize on offer in Bordeaux is a semi-final against host nation France or surprise package Iceland, who meet on Sunday. Joachim Loew`s side had appeared to be heading for the win after Mesut Ozil gave them a 65th-minute lead, but Italy equalised through a Leonardo Bonucci penalty 12 minutes from the end of normal time after a Jerome Boateng handball.
With no goals in extra time, Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger all failed from the spot for Germany, usually so reliable from 12 yards. But after Simone Zaza and Graziano Pelle missed for Italy and Bonucci was denied by Manuel Neuer, Matteo Darmian`s failure to convert the Azzurri`s ninth kick allowed Hector to become Germany`s hero. "It`s hard to put it into words, but I am overjoyed that it went in," said Hector.
"There weren`t many people left. I knew I had to take one at some point and I had my heart in my mouth. We`re happy to have gone a round further, it was really stressful and of course luck played it`s part." Italy`s campaign had shown promise with wins against Belgium and over Spain in the last 16, and coach Antonio Conte said: "I`m very proud of what the team achieved here.
"The only regret is the penalty kicks. But for commitment to the shirt, I can`t fault them." The game had been billed as the pick of the quarter-finals, but large spells of the game in Bordeaux were uneventful.