Germany ended their Italy taboo, but only on sudden death penalties after Italy earned a more than creditable 1-1 draw.
Germany had never beaten the Azzurri in a major tournament, earning four draws and as many defeats, but went into this quarter-final in Bordeaux feeling confident as World Cup holders. Daniele De Rossi failed a fitness test with Antonio Candreva injured and Thiago Motta suspended, so Stefano Sturaro started with Marco Parolo moving in front of the defence. Joachim Löw pulled a huge surprise by using three at the back, dropping impressive Julian Draxler to bring in Benedikt Höwedes.
Emanuele Giaccherini’s early chest and shot was deflected wide for a corner by Jerome Boateng, but in a sense of inevitability, Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira went off with a muscular problem to be replaced by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Mario Gomez at full stretch couldn’t control the Mats Hummels cross and Schweinsteiger had the ball in the net on 26 minutes, but only after the whistle had blown for his blatant shove on Mattia De Sciglio.
Boateng crucially intercepted a De Sciglio roll across for Giaccherini and Manuel Neuer had to rush outside his box to clear from the Bologna man.
Gomez nodded a Joshua Kimmich cross over the bar and the Germans scuffed three shots in the same move, Buffon eventually gathering from Thomas Müller.
However, on 44 minutes there was a splendid double chance for Italy. Giaccherini kept a long Leo Bonucci ball in play and pulled it across, where Neuer’s foot prevented Eder tapping in from seven yards, then Sturaro’s follow-up was deflected just wide by Boateng.
After the restart Florenzi performed an acrobatic goal-line clearance with his heel, though Müller’s effort appeared to be drifting just wide anyway, and Boateng blasted over.
Sturaro was booked for protesting more than the repeat fouls, followed swiftly by De Sciglio, who would be banned going forward, and Parolo.
Lazio midfielder Parolo drilled wide, but Germany broke through from a Neuer kick. Gomez kept it in, Hector’s pull-back took a kind deflection for Mesut Özil to tap in from six yards. Remarkably, that was the first time Germany had ever taken the lead against Italy in a major tournament during normal time.
Gomez sprung the offside trap moments later and his cheeky flick – with Giorgio Chiellini deflection – was sensationally denied by Gigi Buffon from point-blank range.
Graziano Pellè fired over from 10 yards on a De Sciglio assist and Germany increasingly sat deep, but paid for that attitude when Boateng stuck his hand up in the box for a penalty. Bonucci was surprisingly the man who stepped up, but placed his spot-kick into the bottom corner past Neuer to equalise. It was the Juventus defender’s first ever career penalty in regular time.
Hector slipped to spark a counter with Pellè’s strike deflected just wide, while Florenzi performed some acrobatics in the German box to assist Parolo before going off with cramp.
De Sciglio’s daisy-cutter hit the side-netting and Mats Hummels was booked, leading to a ban. It went to extra time and Pellè was immediately booked for an ankle-clipping tackle, so he too would be suspended.
Draxler hooked the ball over his own head and the ball from six yards and Conte finally made his second substitution after 107 minutes, bringing on Lorenzo Insigne.
The Napoli talent immediately had an effort charged down, but Germany went on the counter and the Draxler pass was fortunately over-hit.
Insigne spun round only to fire straight at Neuer and Buffon comfortably controlled an Özil shot. Simone Zaza came on for the penalty shoot-out, as they could not be divided.
Curiously Schweinsteiger won the coin toss and chose to take the penalties under the Italian end. Zaza only came on for the shoot-out and blazed over the bar after a ridiculous run-up, but Müller’s effort was saved and Özil hit the upright.
Bonucci had scored earlier on a penalty, but this time was denied by Neuer, and Bastian Schweinsteiger blasted over to spark sudden death.
It went on for quite a while until Matteo Darmian’s weak spot-kick was parried and Buffon got a hand to Hector’s penalty, but couldn’t keep it out.
Germany 1-1 Italy (aet, 6-5 on pens)
Özil 65 (G), Bonucci pen 78 (I)
Penalties: Insigne (I, goal), Kroos (G, goal), Zaza (I, over), Muller (G, saved), Barzagli (I, goal), Ozil (G, upright), Pellè (I, wide), Draxler (G, goal), Bonucci (I, saved), Schweinsteiger (G, over), Giaccherini (I, goal), Hummels (G, goal), Parolo (I, goal), Kimmich (G, goal), De Sciglio (I, goal), Boateng (G, goal), Darmian (I, saved), Hector (G, goal)
Germany: Neuer; Höwedes, Boateng, Hummels; Kimmich, Khedira (Schweinsteiger 15), Kroos, Hector; Müller, Gomez (Draxler 72), Özil
Italy: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini (Zaza 120); Florenzi (Darmian 86), Sturaro, Parolo, Giaccherini, De Sciglio; Eder (Insigne 107), Pellè
Ref: Kassai (HUN)
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