By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Euro 2012 quarter-final between England and Italy fell to a penalty shoot-out after both sides valiantly cancelled out each other's efforts throughout the game. The shoot-out started brightly enough, as attempts from Mario Balotelli and Steven Gerrard hit the back of the net, but the Three Lions raced ahead after Wayne Rooney capitalized on Riccardo Montolivo's miss.
Despite his team trailing 2-1, Pirlo kept his nerve and cheekily chipped the ball straight down the middle of Joe Hart's goal, after the Manchester City custodian chose to dive toward the right. The midfielder believes his daring attempt unsettled the next two English penalty takers, Ashley Young and Ashley Cole, resulting in crucial misses for Roy Hodgson's team.
"Joe Hart was doing some strange movements, so when he dived I decided to take it like that and it went well," Pirlo shared with Rai Sport.
"It put a bit of pressure on their takers and in fact Ashley Young missed his penalty after that."
Pirlo applauded his team-mates for lasting the distance, and took a slight dig at Hodgson's tactics.
"England did not create any chances during the match. They played for the penalty shoot-out, while we wanted to win," he stated.
"We knew we could dominate the match, and all that England did was defend. We used up more energy than we expected, but we were able to win the match."
Azzurri team-mates Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Diamanti agreed with their playmaker that England were not the team deserving of a place in the semi-finals.
"It is clear that I feared an upset, in the penalty shoot-out you can be lucky and win or unlucky and lose. With regards to the 120 minutes of action, we deserved the victory, we created more chances than them," Buffon said.
"Justice was done, we played better than England. We controlled the match from the first minute," Diamanti shared.
Italy will take on Germany in their Euro 2012 semi-final clash this Thursday.