Wayne Rooney made sure his shot would count against Italy, hitting his first major penalty kick in international competition. The English went up 2-1 in PKs at that point, but it all fell apart from there.
Two misses from England and three Italy scores later, the English were toast, missing a golden opportunity for a Euro 2012 semifinal berth. Rooney does not have much to do with this epic collapse, though.
England’s midfield had trouble keeping possession and creating chances in the final third. As a result, Italy controlled the ball for more than 60 percent of the game, putting England on their heels for the duration. It was a small miracle that the English stuck around long enough for PKs.
Rooney did have multiple opportunities in regulation and extra time to earn England a semifinal berth, but he showed some rust with his touch in the box.
His best chance came in the 34th minute, when Steven Gerrard delivered one of his famed crosses that fell right on Rooney’s forehead, but was unable to turn his head to connect the ball towards goal. The header sailed above the crossbar and into the stands.
Amidst his inconsistencies going for the goal, Rooney had his moments setting up his teammates and making the right plays in the forward third. He sent a beautiful give-and-go feed to Danny Welbeck in the box in the 31st minute that the youngster missed wide right.
A failed bicycle kick in extra-time would be England’s last chance in regulation, sailing far over the top crossbar.
The Manchester United center forward had a knack for the net this season, scoring 27 goals in 34 caps. Rooney has been Man U’s star up front since the departures of Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo, taking on all of the pressure and scrutiny that goes along with being the star for England’s most successful club.
Playing for England, though, Rooney has hardly been the same player that Manchester United has paid over £20 million to in his career. Before scoring against Ukraine in this year’s group stage, Rooney had not scored a goal in international play in over eight years.
Regardless of Rooney’s international troubles, today’s misfortunes cannot be put squarely on him. He simply did not get enough chances before PKs to drive one in the net.
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