What's buzzing:

Dirty Tackle

Andrea Pirlo’s genius penalty that sparked Italy’s shootout win over England

Dirty Tackle

View gallery

.

Andrea Pirlo tortures Joe Hart. (Getty)

(Gif here)

With England leading the penalty shootout 2-1 in their Euro 2012 quarterfinal against Italy, it seemed as if an unlikely upset was about to be pulled off. Italy had all but dominated the previous (and tedious) 120 minutes of play with 64 percent of possession and 35 shots on goal (20 on target) to England's nine (four on target). But once England limped in to the shootout, none of that mattered anymore. And after Riccardo Montolivo followed up Mario Balotelli's confident opening score with a miss wide, England were in control. Then Andrea Pirlo stepped up to the spot.

Not only did Pirlo make his attempt to keep Italy alive, but he did it with a Panenka (and similar to the original) so exquisite that it forced Joe Hart to dive, land on his butt and watch the ball float into his vacated net. This was not just a penalty, this was a mind game. You don't employ a Panenka when you're behind in a vital shootout on a big stage without careful consideration and a desire to influence not just that one moment, but every shot that would follow.

Ashley Young then pinged his shot off the crossbar and Ashley Cole had his shot saved by Gigi Buffon before Alessandro Diamanti finished off the comeback for Italy and put them in the semifinals and produced a very familiar end for England (they've been knocked out on penalties in six of the last 10 tournaments they've participated). Said Pirlo after the match (via Football Italia):

"At the moment I saw the goalkeeper making strange movements, so I waited for him to move and hit it like that.

"It was easier for me to chip it at that stage. Maybe my effort put some pressure on England and in fact Ashley Young missed the next one after me."

With three Serie A titles and a World Cup victory (he was Man of the Match in the 2006 final) already, the 33-year-old midfielder's brilliance is already well documented and internationally revered. This was just a reminder that it's not just hyperbole and Joe Hart will probably never forget that.

View gallery

.

The ball's only halfway there and Joe Hart's already done for.

Here's video of the shootout (Pirlo's shot is about 3:40 into the video)...

View Comments (62)
  • THE LATEST: Blatter says FIFA will 'root out any misconduct'

    THE LATEST: Blatter says FIFA will 'root out any misconduct'

    The Latest on FIFA developments: --- 9:10 p.m. (1910 GMT, 3:10 p.m. EDT) FIFA President Sepp Blatter says FIFA will work hard with authorities to ''root out any misconduct'' after the arrest and indictment of several top officials in a far-reaching … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • U.S. charges against FIFA officials, possible sentences

    By Julia Edwards and Lindsay Dunsmuir May 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has charged five executives and nine officials of soccer's global governing body, FIFA, with racketeering. U.S. code defines racketeering as any criminal activity … More »

    Reuters - 12 minutes ago
  • FIFA's Blatter promises to root out any wrongdoing

    By Brian Homewood ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said he was determined to "root out any wrongdoing in football" after seven leading football officials were arrested on corruption charges by U.S. and Swiss authorities on Wednesday. … More »

    Reuters - 13 minutes ago
  • Cameroon keep faith with African finallists for World Cup

    (Reuters) - Cameroon coach Carl Enow Ngachu provided no real surprises as he largely kept faith with his African Championships squad when announcing his 23-strong selection for next month's Women's World Cup in Canada. Ngachu has for the main part … More »

    Reuters - 14 minutes ago
  • Coca-Cola calls on FIFA to address issues linked to indictment

    By Anjali Athavaley NEW YORK (Reuters) - FIFA sponsor Coca-Cola Co said on Wednesday that the indictment of senior officials at the football governing body had hurt the mission of the World Cup and called on it to address the issues surrounding the … More »

    Reuters - 15 minutes ago