The 5 Best Moments from England vs Italy


1. Player of the day

No contest here: Andrea Pirlo was head and shoulders above every other player in Kyiv last night. Sitting at the base of the Italian midfield, Pirlo set the tempo of the game with his short passing and provided his side's main threat with more ambitious through balls. Admittedly, he was granted an absurd amount of time and space by England (particularly in the second half and in extra time), but his intelligent prompting was still a joy to behold.

His penalty, a delicate Panenka, will go down as the game's defining moment. Whilst other players (*cough*Ashley*Young*cough*cough*) reacted to the pressure by blasting the ball, Pirlo showed supreme confidence in his own ability, dinking his effort over a sprawling Joe Hart. The finish was reminiscent of another knockout blow to English hopes in a European Championhip - Helder Postiga's gorgeous one-foot-high-and-sinking penalty in 2004.

2. Lookalike of the day

England's chief tormentor is a dead ringer for fellow evil magician, Professor Snape from Harry Potter. 

3. The 'when did he get good' moment of the day

Eyebrows were raised when Italy boss Cesare Prandelli left Antonio Di Natale on the bench, instead opting to throw unheralded forward Alessandro Diamanti into the Kiev cauldron. But Diamanti, who flattered to deceive during a sulky spell at West Ham a few years ago, is seemingly a new man. The 29-year-old was sensational last night, carving England's defence open on numerous occasions before slotting the winning penalty for good measure. What a transformation. 

4. The 'my granny could've scored that' moment of the day

Stood alone, five yards out and the goal gaping, Danielle De Rossi had the tie at his mercy, but managed to hook it wide. Thankfully for the Roma man, his inexplicable faux pas didn't come back to bite him. 

5. Unnecessarily enthusiastic coin flipping technique of the day

Irrespective of his display during the game itself, flamboyant Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca irked us from the very beginning. Acting like a kid in a playground with his excitable coin toss prematch, he through it three feet above his head and then caught it above head height, as if he was a magician showing off a trick. Messrs Buffon and Gerrard were simlarly unimpressed. Some might say Mr Proenca should concentrate on getting footballing decisions correct in future.