The England manager lamented that the England team “went down the same road again”, when it lost 4-2 on penalties after the 90 minutes and 30 minutes extra time ended goalless.

IT was a familiar tale of woe, as Ashley Young struck the crossbar and Ashley Cole’s spot-kick was saved, putting England on the same path of heartbreak and misery at a major tournament, as it has done as far back as 1990.

However, despite the penalty jinx, Hodgson said the England Football team had “given their all” and could exit with “their heads held high”.

“When we took it to penalties I was hoping this was our tournament but the practising didn’t help,” Hodgson admitted, “I can’t fault the players as a lot of them were running on empty.”

“Of course, (I believed when Montolivo missed his penalty) because the five penalty takers we had were very good. I’d been watching Ashley Young and Ashley Cole smashing in penalties in training but you can’t reproduce the tired legs, pressure and nervous tension It has become an obsession for us in English football.

“Italy stood up to penalties better than us, (Andrea) Pirlo’s being the example. I thought the chances were there for both teams but, as the second half went on, we tiring very badly and they came at us again and again. We have lost and we have gone out without losing a game with our heads held high.

“We tried our best. We worked as hard as we could, survived the cramps and the physical problems that one or two players suffered.

“Whether we did enough or whether it was good enough, that’s a matter of opinion. But we certainly tried to win it in 90 minutes and then the additional 30 minutes.

“We weren’t playing for penalties. Our defending was very resolute and we did very well, especially during the strong spell or pressure in the second-half, to hold out and give ourselves a chance. Unfortunately it was a chance we couldn’t take.”

Hodgson was careful not to take away credit from the Italian side, who were strong throughout what was an enthralling match.

 “It wasn’t quite simply a case of Balotelli missing a couple,” he said. “I wouldn’t begrudge them their victory but, for long periods, it was an even game and interesting tactical battle. They didn’t get behind us on too many occasions. We didn’t do as well with the ball as we should have done. Which team deserved to win it, that’s a matter for debate but, talking about my own team, we put up a very good effort. Had we won it, we wouldn’t have been apologising for the victory.”

The England football manager thanked supporters who turned out in Kiev, Ukraine – far outnumbering Italian supporters.

“That’s made the defeat even harder because we so much wanted to stay on and give the fans a reward for the support they’ve given us.”

Finally, Hodgson said he was buoyed by  England’s performance.

“I’ve been very happy with what I’ve seen with this group of players, and the way they’ve responded to the demands of an England shirt. They’ve shown they’re capable of stepping up to the plate.

“They’re bitterly disappointed they couldn’t take it one step further, but we’ve got good young players coming through, and this has been important for them.”

Italy now go on in the Euro 2012 to play Germany.


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