Andrea Pirlo was a class above in the 120 goalless minutes of the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final between Italy and England – and that was before his cool shoot-out penalty helped his side into the last four and put the seal on his selection as Carlsberg Man of the Match.
Pirlo's sumptuous passing ensured Italy dominated open play, but they still required spot kicks to earn a Thursday semi-final with Germany. They had actually fallen 2-1 behind in the shoot-out after a Riccardo Montolivo miss when Pirlo stepped up, but his 'Panenka'-style effort levelled matters and Italy went on to triumph 4-2.
"I'm very happy to get this award but the most important thing is we are into the semi-finals; we deserved it," Pirlo said.
"We created a lot of chances, but their goalkeeper's ability, and our bad luck... it can happen, you can't always score in football. Now we have a few days to recover in order to be fit for Thursday's game."
As for his cheekily-chipped penalty that bamboozled Joe Hart, it was not pre-planned. "It came on the spur of the moment," the Juventus midfielder said. "I saw the goalkeeper, he was moving a bit too early, so I decided to shoot in that fashion."
However, if they want another Sunday date in Kyiv for the final next week, they must first get past Germany in Warsaw. "Yes, they're a great team, they've got to the semi-finals without any problems, but we're also in [it]," Pirlo said. "May the best team win."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.