England coach Roy Hodgson has insisted his team can leave Euro 2012 with their heads held high, despite losing to Italy, on penalties, in the last quarter final in Kiev, on Sunday evening. This is the fifth time England have exited a major competition after failing to win a penalty shoot-out, after the game against the Azzurri finished goalless.
Hodgson admitted he felt confident, ahead of the shootout, as the team had practiced penalties well in training but added he would not blame the players for the loss.
"When we took it to penalties I was rather hoping it would be our tournament to win on penalties. Certainly the practising didn't help us too much on this occasion, Maybe it's just fated at the moment that we don't win on penalties but I really can't fault any of the players for their effort," BBC quoted Hodgson as saying.
"We have an obsession with penalties in this country and it will be even bigger now - but you can't reproduce the tired legs, the pressure and the nervous tension in training. [Italy] stood up to it better than we did and [Andrea] Pirlo's [chipped] penalty being the prime example," the FA quoted the former Inter Milan boss.
Hodgson stated that despite the disappointing exit, England could leave the championship with pride as he thought the team performed well and had a bright future ahead, considering so many youngsters were stepping up to the task.
"We have lost and we have gone out without losing a game with our heads held high. I've been very happy with what I have seen from this group of players and how they have dealt with the demands of an England shirt. I do think we have got some very good young players coming through and this tournament has been very good for them," Hodgson pointed out.
Meanwhile, England goalkeeper Joe Hart admitted Italy were the better team in the quarter final clash. The 25 year old failed to save any of the Azzurri's penalties in the shootout, including one against his Manchester City teammate Mario Balotelli.
"I went in confident we would win the game, I was required to step-up and didn't make the saves. They were superior in regards to chances, but we were very resolute and gave everything when defending. I face penalties against Mario Balotelli on the training ground and I felt confident, but he took a good penalty. Of course I expect to make saves, I feel like no-one can beat me. I'll take away the great way we qualified, we've lost at the end of the day, but I don't think anyone has let the country down and we have adapted well to the manager," ESPN quoted Hart as saying.
Italy will now face Germany in one of the semi finals in Warsaw on Thursday, while the other semi-final pits Portugal against holders Spain in Donetsk the day before.