England are out of Euro 2012 after losing on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals. After Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney scored their penalties, Ashley Young smashed his penalty against the crossbar before Ashley Cole took a tame penalty which was an easy save for Buffon.
Young lifted his penalty, with Buffon getting nowhere near it, so it’s puzzling as to why he felt the need to hit it so hard. After all the fuss that had been made in the press this week about how much England had been practicing taking penalties and how well prepared Joe Hart was, it was disappointing for them to miss half the pens they took and Hart get nowhere near saving any of them.
Young had a miserable tournament and it’s amazing he managed to last the full 120 minutes yesterday without being subbed. He constantly lost the ball and his crossing was generally pretty poor.
It’s a shame for Young, given how well he has done for England this year. He scored the only goal of the game in England’s win over Wales and he scored the opening goal in their 2-2 draw with Montenegro. He also scored in friendlies against Holland and Norway.
Only Swizerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored more goals in the group than Young in qualifying and of England’s six games, he started four of them, came on as a sub against Bulgaria and was injured for the Switzerland game.
Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney can be pleased enough with their contribution to the tournament, with both of them scoring winning goals in the group stages. Welbeck was well received by the fans too, with chants of “let’s all do the Welbeck” coming from the stands, which should be good for his confidence. It was surprising to see him withdrawn so early on in the quarter-final but I’m sure he’s taken a lot from the tournament. Rooney failed to meet the expectations put on his shoulders though and struggled to make any impact against Italy.
Let’s hope the boos and whistles Young will receive next season inspire him to be better, as it did with David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Choose losing on penalties. Choose scapegoats. Choose England.