Euro 2012 quarter-final: England v Italy

Live text commentary and video highlights as England are knocked out on penalties by Italy following a 0-0 draw after extra time in Kiev.

24 June 2012 Last updated at 23:40

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As it happened

  1. 2340:  

    Right, that's the end of a long and ultimately deflating day for us all then.

    England once more go out on penalties, but this time there can be no doubt at all that the right team won on the night.

    Join us back here on Wednesday for the first of the semi-finals when Spain take on Portugal.

    Thanks for all your contributions and see you all next week. Cheers.


    Ben texts: "If you're looking for reasons why England are technically outclassed by every top team we play against, look no further than the public reaction to this tournament. We've been negative and dull, but everyone's proud of our passion. How can we be proud of having 45% possession against Ukraine? I'd rather see passing than passion."


    Tim Brown on Twitter: "Steven Gerrard has been one of England's best ever midfielders, hope he is still on the top of his game at the next tournament."


    Anonymous texts: "Anyone else got Paul Scholes in the back of their mind right now? Pirlo just ran the game for them at 33 and England's biggest problem was not being able to keep the ball."

  5. 2333:  

    Stuart, I think that might be Gareth Southgate's new job... he is the head of elite development.

    There are changes under way though of course.


    Stuart in Watford texts: "Instead of lambasting the players & management, who from the Footbal Association will take responsibility for the shocking state of grass roots football in England?"


    Benjamin Roberts on Twitter: "England have quashed the Chelsea bandwagon of a 'new style to win' and that playing attacking possession footy IS the way to go."

  8. 2329:  

    Glen Johnson is another player who had a good tournament. And he's right there, you cannot fault the England defence. It was just the inability to keep possession which cost England again.


    England right-back Glen Johnson: "We showed how well we can defend as a team. In the dressing room we thought it was a positive tournament and positive for the future. But that's football. We've showed we can defend very well as a unit and if we keep defending we'll win more games than we lose. Italy are a fantastic side, with some fantastic players, and we matched them well today."

  10. 2328:  

    Not sure if we can agree with Wayne Rooney there, I think there were one or two chances...


    England striker Wayne Rooney: "We're gutted about it, people weren't expecting much this tournament but we've shown we are a good team. This experience will help the young players. I don't know why we can't win penalty shootouts, it's a hard way to go out and it's happened too many times now. There weren't that many chances in the game, apart from Balotelli at the start maybe, we defended well and hoped for a chance on the break."

  12. 2323:  

    Steven Gerrard had a good tournament. He ran out of legs this evening, but he's not alone in that department, and his delivery from both open play and set-pieces was exceptional.

    Highlights to remember from this tournament? Andy Carroll's header against Sweden stands out for me.

    What a goal.


    England captain Steven Gerrard: "It's heartbreaking, my feelings are exactly the same as previous tournaments. I think all the boys have given everything they have got. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. I've played in these games at club level where you ride your luck, and you think it is your night, especially when we got them to penalties, I thought this was it. It wasn't to be, but I'm proud of the team and I've enjoyed leading the boys.

    "From a personal point of view, I've left everything out there, and the boys have as well. We've stuck together and worked so hard to get in this position. You need to get the balance right with expectations, there were a lot of critics before the tournament, and we've proved we can compete at this level. It's important we dust ourselves off and go again."


    Tom from Edinburgh texts: "Nothing's changed Chris Waddle? I suggest we showed more passion, fight and desire than any Capello team! Yeah, we weren't good enough but boy we gave the England fans something to believe in, would take that any day."


    England striker Danny Welbeck: "It's very hard to take, and people aren't in the best of moods in the dressing room, but we have to evaluate what has happened for the future. Every game we got better, we kept improving, and we are bitterly disappointed to go out tonight.

    "We have to hold our heads up high. We've got to go back, keep working hard, and push on. It's not just people on the outside who want us to continue the good stuff we played in the first 20 minutes, we want to ourselves, we've got to learn from that good football and keep possession going and create attacking chances.

    "Italy have very good players and Pirlo showed his experience, he was top class. We've got to evaluate where in our game we went wrong and the manager will do that. I think their quality showed in the end. The experience is invaluable coming to a major tournament. It was something I've been working so hard for since I was a little kid. We couldn't go off ifs and buts, you've got to make stuff happen on the pitch."

  16. 2313:  

    England's first qualifier for World Cup 2014 takes place on 7 September against Moldova, before they take on Ukraine again four days later.

    Before that though, they face...Italy again in a friendly in August. Brilliant.

  17. 2310:  

    Joe Hart beating himself up there. He had a fine tournament.


    England goalkeeper Joe Hart: "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."


    Akhil Sharma on Twitter: "Pirlo has got to be the coolest footballer ever! Such an amazing player with an outstanding career!!!"


    Jonny texts: "I feel heartbroken, not because we are out, but because we're so painfully far away from any of the top teams. How much longer do we have to wait for a national team that can compete at that top table?"

    Connor in Rothwell texts: It's a strange feeling, more proud than disappointed. But I think with players like Wilshere, Cleverley, Smalling, Jones, Welbeck, Sturridge, Ox, mixed with Hart, Rooney, Young, we've got a few reasons to be hopeful sooner rather than later..."

    Jack in Salford texts: "Well done England. Topped the group, showed a bit of passion for the first time since '96 and we can build on something positive. We weren't at the races tonight but it's not like we were ever going to win the competition."

  21. 2307:  

    Theo has got this media training nailed hasn't he?He's already thrown it forward to the World Cup qualifiers. Bring on Brazil 2014.


    England winger Theo Walcott: "The Italians play great football and frustrated us going forward. It just wasn't meant to be and it's a cruel way to go out. The lads can be proud we got this far.

    "Bring on the World Cup qualifiers now. We'll be much stronger next year. We couldn't get the goal at the start and Buffon made some world-class saves. We've had some luck, at times, but tonight, it didn't go our way.

    "We didn't create that many chances. We always believed we could have gone further, we have to learn from this. It's such a shame we couldn't maintain that 20 minutes, but that's football. They are very strong characters and the lads will be with them if needed. Cole and Young will bounce back as even stronger players and we won't have to worry about them in the future."

  23. 2258:  

    Highlights of the game are now online on this website, if you can stomach going through it all again...


    Nick on text: "We may have been outclassed, but we gave it a go and I can safely say that was the first tournament in my 20 years I have been proud of how England played and went about their games, and the players should be proud too."

  25. 2255:  

    Changing the way we coach youngsters has been the buzzword for at least the last 15 years or so, but now St George's Park is set to finally open in Burton we may see the fruits of its work in what, 10 to 15 years?

    Until England can bring through players who are capable of dominating possession then you can't really see a pattern for long-term success.

    Again, this has all been said before...


    Former England striker Michael Owen on Twitter: "We played to our strengths but are just not quite good enough. We were hoping to 'do a Chelsea'. If you are not the best team then you have to find an alternative way to win. The other option is to forget results for a while and start from scratch playing a different style. Doubt we have the type of players to do that though. Answer has to be to start coaching our youngsters a different brand of football."

  27. 2253:  

    Roy Hodgson is now facing the English press. Expect him to come under some fire, but I don't think you can be overly critical of that display. Or can you?


    Steve Robinson on Twitter: "Well done England, gave everything against a technically better side. Quarter-finals just about fair."


    England manager Roy Hodgson: "When we took it to penalties I was hoping this was our tournament but the practising didn't help. I can't fault the players as a lot of them were running on empty at one point.

    "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.

    "Italy stood up to penalties better than us, Pirlo's being the example. I thought the chances were there for both teams but as the second half went on we tired 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."

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "At the start of the competition England were average, through the competition they were average and at the end they were average and they got found out today."

  31. 2245:  

    Jack Wilshere is one for the future, without a doubt. I think it will take more than him coming back to fitness to turn England's fortunes around though.


    Anonymous texts: "This match cried out for Jack Wilshere in my opinion. Playing against Barcelona last year he stood out and he is an example of the ability to retain possession and pass the ball that we need to build on in the future."

    MOTD's Jurgen Klinsmann in Kiev:

    "Italy were far superior to England. What impressed me was technically they controlled the game, but also they were physically stronger. That surprised me, and they deserved to get into the semis where they will expect a good clash with Germany.

    "I had hopes for England but to be honest they didn't deserve it because they could not keep tempo with Italy, they didn't close down spaces and it was too big a mountain to climb."

  34. 2241:  

    Italy were deserved winners in Kiev, and now they go on to face Germany.

    The other semi-final sees Portugal play Spain. Two cracking games on the cards there. Who do you make favourites?

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "Justice was done. Big heart, togetherness and organisation can only get you so far and this was probably as far as England could go.

    "Pirlo has unbelievable quality and England just could not match him. Technically, he is superb and controlled that game. It was masterful. The biggest fraility for England has been in possession. It was a conveyor belt of mis-placed passes."

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "I think the disappointing thing from England is that they didn't give themselves a chance as they were chasing the game for most of it. We had one or two half chances but the frustrating thing is that because you work so hard chasing the ball when you get it you lose it and fall further and further back."


    Dan in Shepherd's Bush texts: "Rooney will be fuming at himself. His suspension meant he didn't get enough game time to shine this tournament. Largely anonymous."

  38. 2237:  

    England were outclassed then, but they still surpassed expectations at this tournament didn't they? At least they showed plenty of fight throughout. What did you think?


    JDV on Twitter: "Ashley Cole said in an interview on the BBC pre-game that he would never score a goal for England. Why did he take a pen?"


    Former England captain Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "On a pure footballing note, Pirlo just put on a pure footballing master class & the penalty was too much."

  41. 2236:  

    England started the game well tonight but for the majority of that game they looked shattered. We say this after every tournament but they always seem to be off the pace.

    Graham Taylor is spot on as well that lining up in a flat 4-4-2 just doesn't work against the better sides. Although Italy played four in midfield, they were all narrow and outnumbered Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker.

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "Steven Gerrard has been far and away England's best player of the tournament but Lee Dixon is right that tonight he spent most of the game chasing the ball."


    Paddy texts: "Ashley Cole has played brilliantly all tournament, he can hold his head high. Ashley Young has been truly woeful throughout and his penalty epitomised his overall performance."


    England captain Steven Gerrard: "The players have given eveything. I thought we might have the luck in the penalty shoot-out but it wasn't to be. When you get your nose in front during a shoot-out, you just hope you can hang on but credit to Italy, they got the luck in the shoot-out. The lads at the back were fantastic, we have done the country proud but we go home heartbroken and that is hard to take."

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "We cannot come into every game with the same formation. You can't give a man like Pirlo all that room. Parker and Gerrard cannot be expected to work against three or four very talented international footballers. The one thing I learnt in my international career was we couldn't win anything with a 4-4-2. The better international teams keep the ball off you. If you are short in midfield, you cannot get the ball."

    Former England defender Lee Dixon for MOTD in Kiev:

    "Sometimes you get a bit lucky in a game and win when you shouldn't but getting to the quarter-finals is about right for England. Tonight they got outplayed. With the amount of chances Italy missed you thought this might be England's night. You feel for England but Italy deservedly won. I think in the middle of the midfield England just got overrun."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "This Euro 2012 quarter-final got the right winners in Italy but England's players will be heartbroken to lose yet another penalty shoot-out after fighting in the face of adversity and vastly superior opposition."

  48. 2230:  

    England recorded 35% possession against Italy - their worst amount of possession in the tournament. Against France it was 39%, Sweden 48% and Ukraine 45%.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Hodgson has played defensive football and we have had the rub-of-the-green in a lot of ways. We are no further forward than we have been in the last four or five years. Nothing has changed since South Africa. We have had an enormous amount of luck. We cannot pass the ball. We've said it all along, let's see what is produced from Burton. It is basics, we haven't dominated one game at this tournament with the ball. Why do Italy do it? Why do Spain do it? We cannot pass the ball."

  50. 2229:  

    What a penalty by the way from the absolute man-of-the-match Andrea Pirlo. To have the bottle to dink a penalty down the middle like that is frankly outrageous. Great player.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I was surprised what I saw from Cole, but put anyone in that situation, and see how they do. We are not unlucky to go out. We haven't turned up tonight. It would have been an injustice if we had won that game."

  52. 2227:  

    Ashley Young struck his spot-kick well, and was unlucky to see it hit the bar, Ashley Cole - who has always buried them in the past, stuttered a bit in his run-up and never really hit it. But credit to all England's takers, it is never easy.

    That's one win in seven shoot-outs now. It is beyond luck.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It is very, very frustrating but we have sat and watched a game which has been dominated by one team apart from the first 15 minutes. There cannot be any complaints."

  54. 2225:  

    You have to say justice was done. England put up a fight but from the kick-off of the second half there was only really one side in it. Italy are deserved winners and will play Germany in the semi-final in Warsaw on Thursday.

  55. 2225:  
    BREAKING NEWS Italy beat England 4-2 on penalties
  56. 2224:  
    GOAL England 2-4 Italy (Alessandro Diamanti)

    The former West Ham man makes no mistake and Italy are through to the semi-final against Germany.

  57. 2224:  
    MISSED PENALTY England (Ashley Cole) 2-3 Italy

    Buffon saves, Cole doesn't quite make good enough contact and the Italian stopper gets down low to make the save.

  58. 2223:  
    GOAL England 2-3 Italy (Antonio Nocerino)

    Keeps his cool and sends Hart the wrong way. Classy spot kick.

  59. 2222:  
    MISSED PENALTY England (Ashley Young) 2-2 Italy

    Smashes the crossbar, went hard and straight but rifled the woodwork.

  60. 2221:  
    GOAL England 2-2 Italy (Andrea Pirlo)

    Cheeky chip from the player of the match. Sublime finish down the middle.

  61. 2220:  
    GOAL England (Wayne Rooney) 2-1 Italy

    Took an age to strike it but ruthlessly struck home. Keeper dives the wrong way.

  62. 2220:  
    MISSED PENALTY England 1-1 Italy (Riccardo Montolivo)

    Wide from Montolivo, well wide in fact. Advantage England.

  63. 2219:  
    GOAL England (Steven Gerrard) 1-1 Italy

    The captain delivers, Buffon went the right way but out of the keeper's reach.

  64. 2219:  
    GOAL England 0-1 Italy (Mario Balotelli)

    Cool as you like, perfectly placed. Nothing Hart could do.


    Jon texts: "Worried we might lose possession during the pens."

  66. 2217:  

    Gigi Buffon is far too happy about this. He looks totally relaxed.

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "The gulf in the second half between the two teams was absolutely embarrassing."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Played six lost five. Welcome to England's world of penalty shoot-outs. Surely due a victory soon?"

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "You've got the DVDs and the clips, but I always had the view, the only excuse for a softly taken penalty was if you scored. You have to be firm and sure of yourself. It isn't straightforward though, as these goalkeepers are very good."

  70. 2216:  

    Get your refresh finger ready, this could get hairy...

  71. 2215:  

    Joe Hart is doing some last-minute revision on an iPad. The chance is there now for Joe Hart to become a hero.

  72. 2213:  

    You know what that means then. Penalties...

  73. 2213:  
    FULL-TIME England 0-0 Italy

    Gareth texts: "If this were a boxing match, not only would it have been called off long, long ago as an Italian points victory, by now protestors would be calling for an end to such unnecessary cruelty in a sport."

  75. 2211:  

    To be fair Richard, England started fairly well. The first half was pretty even. It's just the last 75 minutes which have been complete one-way traffic.


    Richard in South Queensferry texts: "Can't help thinking of Blackadder... It started badly, got worse in the middle, and the less said about the end the better, but apart from that, well done."

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "England have got players who simply aren't in the game. They haven't touched the ball for ages."

  78. 2210:  

    England are just waiting for the whistle now.


    English golfer Lee Westwood on Twitter: "Wouldn't be surprised if Pirlo's knees went! He's kicked it more than the whole England team put together!"


    Paul on Twitter: "So far the finest rear-guard action since Mike Atherton's 185 not out in Johannesburg. Not good watching though!!!"

  81. 2208:  

    Ooh, so close. Antonio Nocerino heads in from close range, but he is definitely offside. England chalk off their sixth life.

  82. 2207:  

    There's no getting away from the fact England's players have looked very, very tired in this game, from about half an hour in.

    I've reached for the can of worms shelf and pulled down the one marked "we need a winter break"...

  83. 2205:  

    Chance for Italy again, as Alessandro Diamanti gets on the end of a cross from the left but screws it over the top. Six minutes left.

  84. 2204:  

    Free-kick for Italy and Mario Balotelli drifts it way over the top. Awful.


    Dave texts: "I'll be the first to say it. No time for chickens in Kiev. Sorry."

  86. 2202:  

    Italy have made more than twice the amount of passes England have now. They are not that incisive in the final third though, which is allowing England to somehow hang on.

    I don't think Germany will lose too much sleep about playing either of these two sides.


    Spain defender Gerard Pique on Twitter: "Is this going to end up with penalties?? I think so!"

  88. 2201:  

    England haven't been great on Sunday, so let's win it on Monday.

  89. 2200:  

    John Terry defends well again as the clock ticks past midnight in Kiev. A new day, a new dawn lads!

    MOTD's Jurgen Klinsmann in Kiev:

    "England do hang on and that is the only thing that matters. It only takes one brilliant moment and England can win the game even though they do not deserve it. A worst case scenario is that England go to penalties and win it. Remember Chelsea."

  91. 2158:  
    KICK-OFF England 0-0 Italy

    Here we go then. This is it.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "There is not a lot to say. It has just continued in the same fashion. They are still in the game, though. For all the play Italy have had, they haven't peppered the England goal. At the present time, it is all Italy but you have to give the England boys credit for sticking in."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Half-time in extra-time as the clock ticks towards midnight in Kiev. Italy still in charge but England still in contention."

  94. 2157:  

    Andrea Pirlo has just gone past 100 passes, while no England player has passed it more than 40 times.

  95. 2156:  

    Fifteen whole minutes left then before we face penalties. Stick with it.

  96. 2156:  
    HALF-TIME England 0-0 Italy
  97. 2155:  

    England threaten again in stoppage-time as Theo Walcott beats his man and hangs up a cross which Andy Carroll can't head back in on goal.

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator Alan Green:

    "It is so Greek-like, it is painful."

  99. 2153:  

    A lone voice cries from the bench, "keep your shape lads."

    Desperate stuff.


    Liverpool and Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam on Twitter: "Get it in the mixer for the big man, game over."

  101. 2151:  

    To paraphrase Monty Pyton, apart from hitting the post twice, missing from four yards, testing Joe Hart on numerous occasions, having one cleared from the line by Joleon Lescott and shooting over from two yards, what have the Italians done against us?


    Anonymous texts: "They should make a car after Pirlo because the bloke's done some miles and is still worth the money..... He's everywhere."

  103. 2150:  

    So close for Italy, and it would have been a fluke. Alessandro Diamanti crosses in from the right, Joe Hart misjudges it somewhat and it drifts out of play off the far post. A definite cross though.


    Jared Stone on Twitter: "The whole of England groaned at the same time then did you hear it? Jordan Henderson must have come on."

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It takes all different types, it simply holds our interest as we can't believe Italy aren't in the lead."

  106. 2149:  

    A good ball from Jordan Henderson almost finds Theo Walcott in space but the Arsenal man can't control it. Mario Balotelli then shoots straight at Joe Hart from 30 yards. It's England's subs against Italy at the minute.

  107. 2147:  

    England are looking slightly better at the minute, and Andy Carroll is holding the ball up well.

  108. 2146:  

    Better from England as Theo Walcott breaks at pace, he finds Wayne Rooney who is dispossessed, and Italy are almost in straight away but Mario Balotelli loses his footing.


    Adam in Watford texts: "If we can make Italy look like Spain, I dread to think what would happen if we played them with this side."

  110. 2145:  

    If Joachim Loew had the confidence to rest his front three for the quarter-final against Greece, he may be considering leaving the other eight out in the semi at the moment.

  111. 2144:  

    England are a threat from a dead ball. Steven Gerrard whips it in again and Joleon Lescott is co close to toeing the ball in. The offside flag belatedly goes up though.


    Mikey in Lincolnshire texts: "I'm sat here at work, wearing down my phone screen by hitting refresh every 10 seconds. So many times in years gone by we've gone out in the quarters after being the better team? Do I dare to dream that we could reach the semis whilst playing like Grimsby Town? Come on England...shock me!!!"

  113. 2144:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ENGLAND Jordan Henderson on for Scott Parker

    Here he is.

  114. 2143:  
    YELLOW CARD FOR ITALY Christian Maggio

    Maggio catches Ashley Young and is booked. He will miss the semi-final if Italy get through.

  115. 2142:  

    First shot of extra-time as Antonio Nocerino drills over the top. England back under siege.

  116. 2141:  

    Hit Theo.

    That would be my instructions. Everyone else in the England midfield looks goosed.

    Former England defender Lee Dixon for MOTD in Kiev:

    "When England have won the ball back in certain areas they have given it away cheaply. It is now about about mental attitude as everyone is as tired as each other, maybe some more than others!!"

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "We've been so lucky so we have to make the most of that. Italy have missed big, big chances. But we have to get hold of the football and keep it. We work so hard to get the ball so it is terrible to give it away again straight away."

  119. 2140:  
    KICK-OFF England 0-0 Italy

    After a very long break, play is back on.


    Guy Phenix on Twitter: "Kind of important question, is Antonio Nocerino the best we have left beardwise at Euro 2012?"

  121. 2138:  

    You have to say John Terry has been immense. He has his detractors, but put him in a siege and he is your man.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It has been a very, very hard 45 minutes for England. It has been a long time since I have seen an international game dominated so much by one team and they have not gone on to win the game. It has been one-way traffic and those England players look very tired at the moment. Lescott and Terry have been superb. They are a really good combination. Terry, in particular, has excelled. On a technical and tactical point of view, Italy have been totally in charge but haven't had the amount of shots they should have had."


    Chris in Bolton texts: "It's so frustrating watching England not being able to keep hold of the ball - its like watching Bolton!"

  124. 2136:  

    This is where Roy Hodgson earns his corn. He will be saying "that was a poor 45 minutes, but it's over now and we are still level. Go out there and win it."

    Or words to that effect.

  125. 2133:  

    It would have been hard to construct an argument for England deserving to win that, but it was almost a great goal from Wayne Rooney.

    Now we head into an extra 30 minutes...

  126. 2133:  
    FULL-TIME England 0-0 Italy

    James in Orlando texts again: "Extra time will cost me a fortune. Wife has taken all my money and is doing laps of the shops at the airport."

  128. 2132:  


    England almost snatch it at the death. They construct a passing move for the first time all half, Ashley Cole stands up a cross which Andy Carroll wins well, it drops for Wayne Rooney to overhead-kick over the top.

  129. 2131:  

    It's stoppage-time...

  130. 2131:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ITALY Christian Maggio on for Ignazio Abate

    Steve in the North East texts: "What does Andy Carroll actually do? He isn't occupying any defenders or holding the ball or running channels. Can't believe Roy took off Welbeck for him!"

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "What a run, what a ball, what a first touch, what a shot, what a block."

  133. 2129:  

    Oh what a pass from Claudio Marchisio, he cuts England apart in one swing of his boot, Antonio Nocerino is in on goal but Glen Johnson somehow makes a block. Brilliant last-ditch defending.

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "Parker just needed to play the ball to Walcott's feet. He is in acres of space. To his feet and he can turn and run."

  135. 2127:  

    Fine play from Andy Carroll, he beats a man and sends in a low shot which is well blocked, it runs out to Scott Parker who has Theo Walcott open on the right, but over-hits his pass and the ball goes dead.

    That was just not good enough.

  136. 2126:  

    What's that on the horizon? It's extra-time...


    Anthony Wood on Twitter: "Currently the game resembles a blue Italian wave repeatedly crashing against white English rocks..."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Great support from England's fans tonight and they have needed it as Roy Hodgson's players are digging deep here. Italy are superior but England still in there fighting."

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "All the shirt pulling that is going on in the penalty box is being almost totally ignored. Nobody is taking notice of the pulling that is happening to John Terry every time he gets in the box."

  140. 2125:  

    John Terry encapsulates the second half in one movement, brilliantly cutting out a pass, beating one man before giving away a four-yard pass.


    Adam texts: "On the tiny island of Gotland, Sweden for work. No TV so listening to the local radio commentary. Absolutely no idea what's happening. Loving every second. Come on England!"

  142. 2123:  

    England threaten from another Steven Gerrard free-kick but Scott Parker sees his shot well blocked by Federico Balzaretti. That looks like England's only route to goal.

  143. 2122:  
    YELLOW CARD FOR ITALY Andrea Barzagli

    Barzagli ends a rare England attack by fouling Ashley Young. Barzagli is not on a booking already.

  144. 2120:  

    There are 10 minutes left. This half seems to have already been going for hours.

    Substitute Alessandro Diamanti has a low shot saved by Joe Hart.


    Anonymous texts: "Surely Phil Jones should be thrown in to win the ball in the middle. Better him than Henderson. We need energy."

    Kevin texts: "Watching Pirlo makes you wonder what would have happened if England didn't waste Paul Scholes' career."

  146. 2119:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ITALY Antonio Nocerino on for Daniele De Rossi
    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Some great blocks coming in from John Terry tonight. And they're needed."

  148. 2118:  
    SUBSTITUTION FOR ITALY Alessandro Diamanti on for Antonio Cassano

    The ex-West Ham man comes on.


    Dan Tree on Twitter: "Daylight robbery if England win this. Very disappointing giving away possession easily. We've stopped creating chances too."

  150. 2116:  

    And as long as it is 0-0, England have a chance. One set-piece is all it takes, as Steven Gerrard sends the ball in and Wayne Rooney is very close to heading in from point-blank range. He doesn't connect though and Gigi Buffon makes the catch.

  151. 2115:  

    For all the collective doom and gloom, Italy haven't actually looked like scoring for the last 15 minutes or so. They do not bury teams do they? Germany would have put this England side away by now.


    Alex Pett on Twitter: "Remind anyone of Chelsea in the Champions League? Getting completely dominated but the opposition can't seem to score."

  153. 2114:  

    England are allergic to the ball at the moment. I dread to think what Xavi would make of this.


    Jake in Oxted texts: "Gerrard has been as anonymous as Pirlo has been imperious."

  155. 2113:  

    Every Italian player bar Antonio Cassano has a pass completion rate of over 80%. England have only four players in that category.

    Passing is over-rated though...

  156. 2112:  

    England's midfield is swamped. If only Roy Hodgson had Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard available, as his options are slim to none.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "That is Parker's first touch in this half. We are being completely outplayed in midfield. Parker and Gerrard are finding it very, very difficult. It is so difficult for them to get into the game."

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "Pirlo's performance is a bit a la Bastian Schweinsteiger in Bloemfontein for Germany against England."

  159. 2110:  

    A glimpse of hope as Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney combine nicely but the final pass is again astray. There are 20 minutes of normal time left.


    James texts: "Watching the match in Orlando airport about to fly home from a two week holiday. No volume on TV but it looks like the Alamo. Tropical storm Debbie raging outside, who cares. Come on England."

  161. 2109:  

    England cannot keep the ball now at all. Ashley Cole is the latest offender but they are all at it.


    Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan on Twitter: "This has got David Platt v Belgium written all over this...... Who is going to be Platty?"

  163. 2107:  

    Italy have had 16 shots to England's six, while the Italians are still enjoying 61% of possession overall.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "England manager Roy Hodgson knew he had to do something to shift the momentum away from Italy so he has done it by introducing the power of Andy Carroll and the pace of Theo Walcott."


    Former England captain Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "Pirlo is seeing the game from different angles to anyone on that pitch & all us at home!"


    Will in Fareham texts: "Milner comes off but Young stays on? Young has been our worst player of the tournament, absolutely shocking! Bizarre decision."

  167. 2107:  

    The corner comes to nothing as referee Pedro Proenca gives a free-kick against England. The replays show at least two penalty shouts as well in there. They were all wrestling. We have 25 minutes of normal time left, and England have had a better shape since the changes.


    Former England international Phil Neville on Twitter: "Come on Andy, you're my match winner! I still fancy us by-the-way, just got that feeling!"

  169. 2104:  

    First real chance of the half for England. Theo Walcott's cross causes havoc, it falls for Ashley Young and his low shot is defelcted behind.


    QPR midfielder Joey Barton on Twitter: "Dear England players, see that white round thing Pirlo has on a piece of string? Go fetch it off him please..."

  171. 2102:  

    For all his qualities, I can't see Andy Carroll closing down Andrea Pirlo in midfield. Pirlo has this game in his pocket.

  172. 2101:  

    You can't fault Roy Hodgson for being positive with his changes. He has gone for it here.


    Paul in Rotherham texts: "Both Ashley Young and James Milner bring nothing to the game whatsoever. Both are a liability. Get the Ox and Theo on to run at the Italians."

  174. 2100:  
    SUBSTITUTIONS FOR ENGLAND Theo Walcott on for James Milner and Andy Carroll on for Danny Welbeck
  175. 2059:  

    Mario Balotelli attempts an outlandish overhead kick but it flies over. Italy still on top.

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator Alan Green:

    "Can we possibly reach the semi-finals if we are the inferior team in all three group games and the quarter-final?"

  177. 2058:  

    Changes are imminent.

  178. 2056:  

    For all the half-time chat of closing down Andrea Pirlo, the midfielder is running the show. He may as well park a deckchair in the middle, it is way too easy for him.

  179. 2056:  

    Ashley Young has looked a weak link. Roy Hodgson must be thinking of changes. Andy Carroll? Theo Walcott? Jordan Henderson?


    Anonymous texts: "Ashley Young has been very poor again tonight. With Rooney still lacking match fitness we look short of penetration."


    David Hawkins on Twitter: "There must be some kind of invisible shield or negative magnet or something on the England goal line! How is it 0-0!?!"

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "It is probably about seven times that Balotelli has been onside from that long ball forward. It is hardly a subtle tactic from the Italians."

  183. 2053:  

    England are on the ropes, taking a pasting. But they have not tasted canvas yet.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It's a hard chance for Montolivo , it is very difficult to keep it down. It was high and bouncing."

  185. 2052:  

    Dear oh dear oh dear.

    Italy should be ahead. Joe Hart spills a shot from Daniele De Rossi, Mario Balotelli shoots, Hart saves again and Riccardo Montolivo puts the rebound over from four yards.

    How is this still 0-0?

  186. 2051:  

    Daniele De Rossi: Can hit the post from 30 yards, but misses the target altogether from four. Work that one out.

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator Alan Green:

    "How many times have England players got themselves into good positions and been lazy or inaccurate with their passing?"

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "I'm not sure it doesn't come off De Rossi's shin. He is definitely onside but he snatches at it. England were straggling coming out."

  189. 2049:  

    England's luck in this tournament rolls on.

  190. 2048:  

    What a miss!

    What a miss! This is extraordinary. An Italian corner is half cleared, it's helped back in and Daniele De Rossi has a free shot at goal from no more than four yards out. He swings his left boot at it and somehow screws it wide.



    Jack in Balham texts: "Is anybody else bored of the Mario haters? If Gerrard gets vocal with his team mates he's "rallying the troops". Mario, it's "moaning". Rooney shows frustration after missing an opportunity and it's because he's "committed". Mario, he's "petulant". Yawn! Let's talk about his football for a change."

  192. 2047:  

    Fizzing cross from Ignazio Abate, brilliantly whipped in, but Glen Johnson is there to head it away. Italy have woken up.

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "I would leave it for 20-25 minutes with the team how it is. We've got options on the bench. There's Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andy Carroll. I'm not sure the Italians would have dealt with someone like Carroll."

  194. 2045:  

    Wayne Rooney scored straight after the break against Ukraine - and he has a sight of goal instantly again. Scott Parker shoots, it falls for Rooney in the box but he cannot gather it in. Decent chance that.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Let's hope England are very good after the break. The players will be aware they lost control in the last 20 minutes. That will have been mentioned by Roy. Rooney looks off the rhythm; that is understandable. You can't just come back in after five weeks off at this level. He's not the Rooney we know at the present time."

  196. 2045:  
    KICK-OFF England 0-0 Italy

    We are back in play...

  197. 2044:  

    Wayne Rooney is in the tunnel so Roy Hodgson has not listened to Dennis.


    Dennis O'Brien on Twitter: "Rooney has been rubbish again. Roy should be brave and replace him with Carroll and Walcott for Young."

    MOTD's Jurgen Klinsmann in Kiev:

    "It was a very good start. It was fun watching England but afterwards Italy got into the game. What England are lacking is clinical finishing and that actually applies to both sides. It is an open game and anything is possible. You have to keep pushing. It will open up in another 20-25 minutes and then it is a question of fitness."

    BBC Radio 5 live presenter Mark Pougatch:

    "Proper Italian gesticulations from Balotelli and Cassano going down the tunnel at half time. Both not on top of their game."

  201. 2040:  

    My favourite quote from half-time was Alan Hansen saying "you could write a dissertation on how bad this defending is."

    Mario Balotelli didn't score as a result of it though, and this is well poised.

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "It is a great game. England started poorly with Daniele de Rossi hitting the post but they got into the game and settled well. They had some great chances and at half-time it is anybody's game. Andrea Pirlo is such a quality player, you need to get on him and if you don't you will lose the game."

  203. 2037:  

    The consensus from the Match of the Day pundits is that England have got to get closer to Andrea Pirlo. He is pulling the strings.

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "We've heard about how Roy can be negative at times but the positive is that we are getting bodies into the box. You've got three or four guys looking to get forward. Johnson is looking to get the ball into the box at every opportunity. It encourages me."


    Ben from Southampton texts: "Inside the stadium in Kiev and Michael Bamforth has asked his girlfriend to marry him. She said yes!!!"

    Former England defender Lee Dixon for MOTD in Kiev:

    "I'm really encouraged by England's start but equally I'm worried about the second half as Italy have created chances with Andrea Pirlo. One minute you are off your seat then next you are behind it. I don't think that Italy's full-backs are great and it is an area where England can get at them."


    Josh Killner on Twitter: "Fully expect to see Carroll in the second half, and Walcott late on. One chance could win it for England, it has to be taken."

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "It is very tight. I'm happy with us going forward but defensively we've been iffy. I don't think we've worked hard enough to stop Pirlo. If Balotelli had his shooting boots on it could have been different.

    "The effort from De Rossi - you just have to say is a great effort and he was really unlucky. And then Glen Johnson - he does everything right. What is key to the chance is that he lifts the ball up away from the defender's legs and it is a great save from Buffon."

  209. 2034:  

    Andrea Pirlo may be bossing possession for Italy as you might expect, but left-back Federico Balzaretti is his most frequent outlet which shows you where most of Italy's attacks have come from.

  210. 2033:  

    Wayne Rooney is clearly not 100% match fit. But he still looked a menace when England were able to get him on the ball in the final third. This is anyone's game.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "In the last 20 minutes Italy have dominated the game. I've enjoyed this game, so far. I think all of us were surprised and pleased with England's start. It was end-to-end. As the half has gone on, England seemed to have dropped back. That is a little bit worrying. When they regain the ball, there are not a lot of outlets for them. They are losing it too easily, and Rooney is not at his best after five weeks out."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Italy ended a wonderfully absorbing opening half in the ascendancy but England manager Roy Hodgson also has plenty to be encouraged by. Wayne Rooney looks off the pace and out of sorts - but he is still good enough to influence matters."


    Jemma from Portsmouth texts: "Wayne Rooney hasn't done enough yet to prove he's ready to be playing back with the England squad in such an important game! Wondering if Andy Carroll might be making more of the chances we've had so far..."

  214. 2031:  

    Well I'm not too surprised to report a goalless first half, but don't be fooled by the scoreline. That was an entertaining, absorbing 45 minutes. Excellent stuff.

  215. 2030:  
    HALF-TIME England 0-0 Italy
  216. 2029:  

    He is on the boil, is Mario Balotelli. He's at about 99 degrees at the minute.


    James Levy on Twitter: "What a miss!!!! Balotelli is really getting angry now! Keep it up and "stupid" Mario may make an appearance."

  218. 2028:  

    Italy make a hash of a free-kick and England are in on the break. Wayne Rooney makes the overlap but his cross in is poor and Italy get it away. They have to make more of that.

    Mario Balotelli then bullets a screamer of a shot over the bar from 30 yards. That stayed well and truly hit.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Balotelli takes his frustration out on the post after another opportunity is not taken. Absorbing. Entertaining."

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "What a ball by Pirlo. We keep talking about him, he's fantastic. Balotelli has to be there first. It was a great header across goal from Cassano."

  221. 2026:  

    Oh he must score! Great chance for Italy. Andrea Pirlo swings in a gem of a pass, Antonio Cassano heads it down and it looks like a tap-in for Mario Balotelli. But Joleon Lescott somehow gets a boot to the ball and hoiks it away for a corner. I thought that had to be a goal.

  222. 2024:  

    A promising move comes to an end when James Milner loses the ball. Frustrating.

  223. 2022:  

    Antonio Cassano lets fly from 25 yards, it's a decent effort but it's a routine save for Joe Hart. Just over five minutes to go in this half, it's been excellent so far.


    Abby in Tunbridge Wells texts: "Just looked out of my window and it's like a ghost town out there! England expects!"

  225. 2021:  

    As the game wears on, Andrea Pirlo's presence increases. He is at the heart of everything now.

  226. 2020:  

    We've not had a 0-0 in the tournament yet...

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "England's fans were jeered by the Ukrainian locals for refusing to join in the Mexican wave. They should be applauded - this Euro 2012 quarter-final is far too good to have that inflicted on it."

    BBC Radio 5 live presenter Mark Pougatch:

    "Worried that Rooney's lack of football has left him a little out of sync, a little out of ryhthm. Terrific quarter-final though."

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "It was a great break and interplay from England. It just didn't sit up for Welbeck. He has to pass it in from there. At least make Buffon make a save."


    Steve in Ledbury texts: "Welbeck has won every ball into him uncontested... I know a bloke called Andy that would be loving that."

    Phil texts: "On Eurostar listening to match on French radio. I don't speak French, but football is the international language, right?"

    Dal in London texts: "This is a fantastic game so far. Really impressed. Thought I was watching Spain! Fast paced and exciting. Perfect."

  231. 2017:  

    And now a chance for England! Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney combine for the first time, with Rooney sending Welbeck in with a nice flick but Welbeck leans back and shoots over from 20 yards. Again, good football though.

    Then Antonio Cassano shoots wide at the other end. You cannot take your eyes off this one.

  232. 2016:  

    Another chance for the Italians, it comes from a beautiful first-time pass from Riccardo Montolivo who clips it through for Mario Balotelli but he doesn't get hold of the ball and it's an easy save for Joe Hart.

  233. 2014:  

    The ball is not sticking up front for England at the moment, with Wayne Rooney's lack of fitness showing again. They just need to see this spell of pressure out.


    Nicholas Sanders on Twitter: "John Terry = England's Batman."

  235. 2013:  

    Italy knock it about nicely as well at times, they carve through the middle but Riccardo Montolivo wastes the move with a skidding shot wide from 25 yards. He had better options.

  236. 2011:  

    Where did that pace from John Terry come from? A great tackle. We're half an hour in and this has been a very decent watch.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "What a chance for Italy. Nobody pressed Pirlo, and you can't stand high as a defensive line with a guy like Pirlo on the pitch. For me, Balotelli should have done a lot better with that."

  238. 2009:  

    I concur Jamie. England are playing with confidence. Another nice and fast move ends when James Milner puts in a great cross but it is headed away.

    But then a chance for Italy! Mario Balotelli is played through the middle and he beats the offside trap, but John Terry gets back brilliantly to block his shot. Superb stuff.


    Jamie in Nottingham texts: "First time in years that I'm actually enjoying watching England play."

    Anonymous texts: "Always miss the good matches. Stuck on Manchester Metrolink for nearly an hour now due to signalling problems and relying on your live text to keep me updated. Argh."

  240. 2007:  

    Danny Welbeck is winning every header so far, he flicks on a goal-kick but it is just beyond Wayne Rooney, who had gambled in behind. No possession for England at the minute though, it is shaping up more how we expected.


    Former England captain Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "Open start to the game, we will win this I'm sure after seeing the first 20 minutes."

  242. 2006:  

    Antonio Cassano chances his arm from 30 yards, but it's a poor shot and is way over the top. Italy have had a good 10 minutes.


    President Stefan on Twitter: "England playing some beautiful football. Keeping the ball, keeping the shape, attacking with pace. Good job so far Roy!"

  244. 2005:  

    Andrea Pirlo's corner is a cracking ball in as well, but Danny Welbeck is vigilant at the near post to head it clear. England could do with some possession again.

  245. 2004:  

    It is England's turn to defend now, without a doubt. Antonio Cassano is the chief danger, dropping deep and picking out a pass. Corner.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "We talked about yellow cards and suspensions before the game, and I think a lot of the Italy players are scared to make a tackle."

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "We spoke before about Pirlo and how to negate him. Of course the best way to do that is through England attacking and the game is bypassing him at the moment."

  248. 2002:  

    Italy may have weathered the storm, they are having more of the play now. A neat move almost frees Antonio Cassano but Joe Hart is out quickly to mop up.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "England struggled to get a touch on the ball early on but since Daniele de Rossi hit the post Roy Hodgson's side have had a real passing rhythm about them. Glen Johnson is a major threat down the right flank."


    Ade texts: "Remind me, which of these two teams was talked about as the long ball merchants at the start of this tournament?"

  251. 2001:  

    Delightful stuff as England counter through Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, this is a world away from the performances churned out in South Africa two summers ago. It comes to nothing though, but it is very encouraging stuff out there.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "They've got Italy rattled and they keep getting joys down the flanks. Johnson and Cole are causing problems and it's helping England as it is pushing Young and Milner up the pitch. Italy started with the ball, but Pirlo hasn't got anywhere near it since."

  253. 1958:  

    Good stuff from England again! Glen Johnson whips in a fine cross from the right and Wayne Rooney is almost in, but his header flies over the bar. Italy look ragged so far. So far...

    MOTD's Mark Lawrenson:

    "There is a deliberate ploy from the Italians with the long ball but I think it is aimed in behind John Terry more than Joleon Lescott. Roy Hodgson will be thinking so far, so good."

  255. 1958:  

    England are keeping the ball remarkably well. Gigi Buffon then punches a cross straight out to Scott Parker 30 yards from goal, but the Tottenham man sees his low drive way off target.

    Italy are resorting to pumping long balls in the direction of Mario Balotelli at the moment. That is meat and drink to John Terry.

  256. 1956:  

    Steven Gerrard's delivery is good again, but Leonardo Bonucci clears decisively. England considerably on top at the moment.

  257. 1955:  

    England come down the left again through Wayne Rooney, and his low cross is turned away for a corner.

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Italy are playing a diamond formation and are worried about the two England full-backs, who are breaking out very easily."

  259. 1955:  

    England probe down the left with some nice one-touch stuff. Steven Gerrard very much involved.

    get involved

    Brendan in Newcastle texts: "Already more excitement in the first five minutes of this match than in 90 yesterday. Who said it was going to a snooze fest?"

    Sean in London texts: "I'd give my left foot for an England win.... If it hadn't been amputated three and a half weeks ago. Still, it's the thought that counts. Come on you bulldogs."

  261. 1952:  

    It's been nothing like the tactical, patient stalemate we were expecting so far. England look a threat going forward as James Milner almost gets on the end of an Ashley Cole cross. Good stuff this.


    Spain centre-back Gerard Pique on Twitter: "Watching England-Italy!! Great game to watch!! I bet for a draw.. 1-1 and extra time!"


    PMLegend on Twitter: "Joe Hart was watching that shot on BBC One with me."

  264. 1951:  

    Credit to Gigi Buffon, that was a fine one-handed save to deny Glen Johnson. There's already been more action than I was expecting to be honest.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "De Rossi swerving left foot shot against the post. England have not had the ball yet. Lucky escape. Then Buffon claws one out from Glen Johnson. Great chance. Lively start."

  266. 1949:  

    And now a great chance for England! It's Glen Johnson who should score for England. James Milner puts a low cross in, it falls at the feet of Johnson but the Liverpool man can't get it out of his feet and shovels the shot at Gianluigi Buffon. It could be one all already.

  267. 1948:  

    Joe Hart was nowhere near that strike. It was simply majestic. De Rossi cut across the ball intentionally and saw it swerve right into the top corner.

  268. 1947:  

    What a shot! Daniele de Rossi unleashes a pearler of an effort from 25 yards with his left foot which cannons off the post. That would have been a brilliant, brilliant goal. What a let-off for England.

  269. 1946:  

    This is dangerous from Italy. A neat back-heel from Riccardo Montolivo frees Federico Balzaretti on the left but he overcooks his cross and it drifts out of harm's way. England yet to have a meaningful touch.

  270. 1946:  

    Moment of hesitation between Joe Hart and John Terry but England scramble it away. Italy with all the ball so far.


    Sandy in Edinburgh texts: "If we play like we did against France, we have a chance. If we play like we did against Sweden, we might just beat them. If we play like we did against Ukraine, there's bound to be pain."


    Dan in Manchester texts: "Am I the only one who thinks Buffon could have a career as a singer, once he's retired from football?"

  273. 1944:  
    KICK-OFF England v Italy (19:45 BST)

    We are off...


    Statisticians Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Italy have only been knocked out twice in nine quarter-final appearances at a European Championships or World Cup and both times have been on penalties."

  275. 1941:  

    Solid God Save the Queen from England as well. Everyone set?


    World Cup winning ex-England rugby union head coach Sir Clive Woodward on Twitter: "A lot talk re tactics - tournament football is about winning, nothing else - team momentum is everything. England have it 2-1."

  277. 1940:  

    What an anthem Italy have got. You have to give captain Gigi Buffon 10/10 for that effort as well. First class.

    Former England defender Lee Dixon for MOTD in Kiev:

    "England have got to stop Italy's best player in Andrea Pirlo. It's about getting someone on him. Also, with Italy playing a narrow midfield, England need to attack down the wings."

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "What has served most teams well in this tournament is crosses into the box. We saw that with Xabi Alonso for Spain last night. Four of England's five goals have come from crosses. It is vital England get the ball in the box. I always hear people say you have to pick people out but you don't, just put it into the right area and it is up to forwards to make the right runs."

  280. 1938:  

    Here come the teams then - it's national anthem time...

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I think Roy has done a first class job. Yes people still have reservations, that's understandable. His first tournament has been thrown on him. The biggest advantage he has over all England managers is that he's already had experience of international football. Plus, he's managed in other countries. I really think it is a big, big plus for him."

  282. 1933:  

    If only it was as simple as eating English food eh? We could ring Roy up now and tell him it's in the bag.


    Alex in Surrey texts: "Having a pizza and a Peroni for dinner. Viewing it as me v food so I'm still representing my country. So far, I'm winning."

    Darren and Jo in York texts: "Just heading to a bar in Nuremberg to watch the game and the Germans are wishing us good luck. How bizarre."

    MC in the West Midlands texts: "My wife just told me we've got meatballs for dinner! Blow that. I'm rushing out for a quick fish and chips! Come on England."

    Former England defender Lee Dixon for MOTD in Kiev:

    "When Ashley Cole first came back to Arsenal after being out on loan he was raw and he learnt the art of defending off Tony Adams. He was an unbelievable learner. His talent is there for all to see.

    "His biggest asset is not his pace or reading the game but that he just knows his job. He is very rarely out of position. He has no fear of wingers. He's dominated Cristiano Ronaldo down the years. His consistency has been brilliant."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "Warm-ups complete for England and Italy and the pitch is now being watered. Just 20 minutes to kick-off but still plenty of empty seats inside Kiev's Olympic Stadium."

  286. 1928:  

    Now then Zack - Wayne Rooney paid a lot of money for that hair.


    Zack on Twitter: "Not sure about the scoreline but two things are certain; the Italian national anthem is far superior and they have far better hair."

  288. 1927:  

    England left-back Ashley Cole: "It would be nice to be appreciated and loved, but it is not something I lose sleep over. There are still three games until the final but it would be amazing to get my 100th cap in the final.

    "We won the Champions League with Chelsea when not that many people gave us a chance but the determination and fight and will to win pushed a lot of players through. I can see that in this England squad, with senior players with a lot of caps but young ones who are keen to impress too."


    Statisticians Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "England are unbeaten in their last 11 competitive matches (7-4-0), Italy are unbeaten in their last 13 competitive games (9-4-0)."

    BBC Sport pundit Robbie Savage:

    "I think it's better for England Balotelli plays; he's no world beater, ill disciplined and could be wound up. Is it just me or is there too much emphasis on Balotelli? He's not even a regular at City, Cassano and Di Natale are better!"


    Dave in Romania texts: "Here everyone is backing the Italians for a win. I am wearing my England top loud & proud & hoping for an England win... Please, please win England so I can live this down!"

  292. 1924:  

    We are 20 minutes from kick-off. What I like to call 'last brew time.'

    Go get that kettle on.

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "Andrea Pirlo is to Italy what Steven Gerrard is to England. He makes their play tick. He'll go and get the ball off the back four and is not afraid to get the ball under pressure.

    "He is aware, has two excellent feet and has belief in his ability. He passes and moves and if you give him time and space to pick a pass he can hurt you. He is gifted with dead balls as well. It is important that one of our guys gets in there and stops him playing."

  294. 1922:  

    Let's hope Mario Balotelli wasn't listening to Chris Waddle.


    Araib on Twitter: "Where is a predicting Octopus when you need one?"

    Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "No chance, not in my eyes, is Balotelli one of the best players in the world. Give him time they say, whatever, if you analyse his game he is tidy but can't really beat a man. He's decent at most things but doesn't have an outstanding talent. One week he looks like a world-beater, the next he could play for my local pub team."

  297. 1919:  

    If Joleon Lescott does start winding up Mario Balotelli, then it will be fireworks o'clock.

    I don't see Lescott as a wind-up merchant myself though. Leave that role to John Terry - but DON'T GET SENT OFF John, OK?

    Remember what happened at the Nou Camp?

    Former England defender Lee Dixon for MOTD in Kiev:

    "Cesare Prandelli is keeping with the back four and that means a diamond in midfield. At the back of that is Andrea Pirlo and that is where Italy tick from. The main problem will be where and when Wayne Rooney picks him up.

    "Rooney is back but Gerrard is the talisman. I can see him taking this game by the scruff of the neck. There are times when England will be outnumbered and Gerrard needs to get stuck in.

    "If I was Joleon Lescott I'd be trying to wind Mario Balotelli up and get into his head. It might not sound pretty but that is what they need to do."

    MOTD's Jurgen Klinsmann in Kiev:

    "The culture of Italian football, you can see it in their play, they want to find the killer pass and not overwork themselves. They keep the ball and I think Roy Hodgson's experience at Inter Milan will help him a lot."

  300. 1915:  

    So no pressure then Roy, but you are on the verge of greatness.

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "When you consider Roy Hodgson left Anfield 18 months ago with his reputation damaged, he is untouchable now. He is on the verge of greatness if he leads England to Euro glory. It is great for him, he is so popular and it was tragic for him what happened at Liverpool."


    England manager Roy Hodgson: "It is important to have options. Tonight will be decided one way or another and we have lots of options on the bench who can change games. We have done well so far with this 11 and they all deserve to start the game, but everyone has been informed that the bench is important.

    "It is foolish to try and second guess substitures in your head, but it will be about how the players are coping with the heat and how fresh their legs are. We have given the penalties a lot of thought and have seen the statistics for all the players, but I hope we can win the game in normal time. There will be less stress if we do it that way."

  303. 1913:  

    Who wants to hear from Roy Hodgson then?

    Course you do...


    Nick in York texts: "My Rover was hit by a Fiat earlier today. Minimal damage to my car, but the wing mirror broke off the Fiat. Surely a good sign?"

  305. 1912:  

    Italy have lined up narrow, but against Ireland it was full-backs Federico Balzaretti and Ignazio Abate who carried the attack down the flanks.

    Balzaretti in particular was outstanding. James Milner will have to put in one of his trademark shifts down the right to stop him.


    Richard Johnston on Twitter: "Italian line-up is so narrow, should be attacking down wings with pace, not Milner."

    Nick Forrester on Twitter: "3-1 to England tonight. Italy to score first and Balotelli to get sent off at some point. Terry and Lescott to annoy him."

    MOTD's Alan Shearer in Kiev:

    "I've seen with each game that England have improved. There has been more belief from the players, the media and the public. But that comes with more expectation. I don't think they've got out of third or fourth gear. On the passing front they'll have to keep hold of the ball against a top side.

    "I'm not surprised the team is unchanged. When you talk about good teams you talk about the spine and in our spine it is a good line. It is something to build on. What we've had in two or three of the games is luck, which is what every team needs.

    "I'm not surprised Mario Balotelli plays. The big battle is between him and Joleon Lescott. They know each other's game inside out. It'll be fascinating."

  308. 1909:  

    It seems Wayne Rooney will be expected to drop off and get close to Andrea Pirlo when Italy have the ball tonight. Against Ukraine Rooney looked short of fitness to me, so that could be a challenge in itself. You cannot give Pirlo time on the ball though.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "A second brass band has emerged outside the Olympic Stadium - playing Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water". Interesting choice."

    "England pre-match "team speaker": "Let's hear it for the main man Roy Hodgson." Call me a traditionalist but..."

    MOTD's Alan Hansen in Kiev:

    "This team can get better. They are in bonus territory now and they don't want to go out, but this Italian team are beatable.

    "They don't have a lot of pace. Pirlo is great on the ball, but not so without, and possession is king at this stage. England have given it away too cheaply at times. I want to see England have a go.

    "They will beat the Italians if they have a go, but the big players can win you the games, and they have to perform. Mario Balotelli divides opinion, but he also divides the team."

    Former England manager Graham Taylor on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It is another step-up now. We came into this tournament not expecting anything, but we've got out of the group stage, and there has to be more belief. Not just from us, but the team in itself. That is the most important thing. I think Roy has impressed the players; they are one."

    MOTD's Jurgen Klinsmann in Kiev:

    "It's a big challenge for England because the Italy side is full of quality but it is beatable. England have come a long way in this tournament and they have a chance. England need to be very alert because the Italian midfield, with Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo, can kill you with a pass in a second. You have to be awake but it is do-able.

    "Wayne Rooney is catching up now. He is trying to get into a rhythm but he will be fired up. He will want to show in a big tournament that he is a big player."

  313. 1904:  

    Mark, just think of the neighbours please. You'll be drowning out Emmerdale.


    Phil Mansell on Twitter: "Have just eaten a pizza, if Italy win I'll feel very guilty."

    Grant Dommen on Twitter: "Steak & kidney pie, chips and loads of salad cream. England all the way."

    Mark McKenna on Twitter: "Volume turned up to 66 on the TV. Match of the Day begins... COME ON ENGLAND!!!"

  315. 1903:  

    Steven Gerrard leads the England team out on to the Kiev pitch to warm up. With 40 minutes to go the nerves must be jangling.

  316. 1902:  

    As if you didn't know already - Match of the Day has just started. Alan Shearer, Jurgen Klinsmann and Alan Hansen have joined Gary Lineker at the ground in Kiev.

    You can watch on BBC One, BBC One HD and on this website. I've no preference, as long as you keep reading this at the same time.

    It's the future.

  317. 1901:  
    LINE-UPS England v Italy (19:45 BST)

    England: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Young, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Green, Kelly, Walcott, Henderson, Carroll, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Downing, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Defoe, Butland.

    Italy: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti, Pirlo, Marchisio, De Rossi, Montolivo, Balotelli, Cassano. Subs: Sirigu, Maggio, Chiellini, Ogbonna, Thiago Motta, Di Natale, Giaccherini, Borini, Giovinco, Diamanti, Nocerino, De Sanctis.

    Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)


    Chaz Brett on Twitter: "Got Italian chicken for dinner tonight, but we just battered it with a rolling pin. Is this an acceptable metaphor?"

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "England's goalkeepers are out and warming up in Kiev's Olympic Stadium. Not too many fans have made their way in but lots of activity outside on a perfect sunlit evening."


    Terry in Cumbria texts: "Was offered Peroni with my tea followed by Sicilian cheesecake, both rejected in support of our boys. Come on England!"

  321. 1859:  

    The yellow cards get wiped after this game, so another way of looking at that stat is that Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Scott Parker and Danny Welbeck have all got a 'free hit' in the bag tonight.

    Get booked and it is wiped out. A risky tactic, but with some of the names on that list I can see it happening.


    Statisticians Opta Sports on Twitter: "7 - England have lost seven out of 10 quarter-final matches at major tournaments, with 1966, 1990 & 1996 the only exceptions. Hurt."


    Former England striker Michael Owen on Twitter: "Now come on England, make it a day to remember!"

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:

    "Oh dear. "Hug Your Neighbour" is back as part of the pre-match entertainment. Not tonight thanks."

  325. 1855:  

    Italy's Federico Balzaretti, Mario Balotelli, Leonardo Bonucci, Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo and subs Thiago Motta and Christian Maggio are all also on a booking.

  326. 1853:  

    There are a lot of players one moment away from disaster tonight.

    For England, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, James Milner, Ashley Young and substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must all be careful - they are one booking away from missing the potential semi-final against Germany.

    Otherwise known as 'doing a Gazza.'


    Steve in Havant texts: "I nearly cooked a lasagne tonight but settled for a good old Cornish pasty and baked beans because I ran out of time ...... sign?"

    Joe from Notts texts: "Played on the computer earlier, England v Italy; We won 3-1, Rooney bagged a couple! I think it's a sign, I'm confident we can do this!"

    Nick in Wimbledon texts: "All I've got in the fridge is a pizza and a few bottles of Peroni, which can't be a good omen. Guess I'll be going hungry for England!"

  328. 1851:  
    England v Italy (19:45 BST)

    England are unchanged from the 1-0 win over Ukraine last time out as Wayne Rooney again starts with Danny Welbeck up front.

    Italy make three changes as centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, midfielder Riccardo Montolivo and striker Mario Balotelli replace Giorgio Chiellini, Thiago Motta and Antonio Di Natale.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "England manager Roy Hodgson is all smiles as he takes a pre-match walkabout on the Olympic Stadium pitch with Gary Neville."

    BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev:

    "The weight of history is on England's shoulders. It will be a memorable night if England win. Roy Hodgson may have thought about Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll, but he starts with James Milner and Danny Welbeck. Hodgson has shown faith in the 11 men who started against Ukraine; let's hope they can deliver. Here we go then, just an hour until kick-off. Italy will be a difficult obstacle, but I think Hodgson's side know they can do it."

  331. 1849:  

    Formation fans could have a field day sorting out this Italian line-up. They played 3-5-2 in the first two games, switched to a 4-4-2 diamond against Ireland, and could play a 4-3-1-2 tonight. Your guess is as good as mine.

    It will definitely be 11 v 11 though and that's all that really matters.


    Steven in Cambridge texts: "Re. Michaela in Birmingham. Italia '90 was a sob story of being beaten in a semi-final by Germany on penalties. Be careful what you wish for."

  333. 1846:  

    Going back to penalty shoot-out records for a moment, let's look at Italy's record over the years.

    Italy lost in 2008 to Spain, lost in 1998 to France, lost the 1994 World Cup final to Brazil, lost a semi-final in 1990 to Argentina, and lost in Euro 1980 to Czechoslovakia.

    They did win the 2006 World Cup final over France on spot-kicks though, and also saw off the Netherlands on home turf in 2000.

    They have scored 26 of 37 in total.

    If we do go to spot-kicks, we could be here all night...


    Enoch Wong on Twitter: "I will shave all my hair off if Balotelli AND Rooney get sent off tonight."

  335. 1842:  
    BREAKING TEAM NEWS England v Italy (19:45 BST)

    Mario Balotelli starts for Italy.

  336. 1842:  

    So no changes for England then. As expected.


    Kevin in Bournemouth texts: "Just burned the pizza I am cooking for dinner. A good sign for England?"

    Jill from Leamington Spa texts: "I have made Italian meatballs for tea but have offset them by English seasonal vegetables and Yorkshire puddings by a ratio or two to one. Result: 2-1 to England!"

    Richard from Leeds texts: "I would normally go to the pub to watch but not tonight! Just too nervous. Will be sat on the edge of the sofa cheering them on and chewing my nails hoping for not another night of heartache."

  338. 1840:  
    BREAKING TEAM NEWS England v Italy (19:45 BST)

    As expected, England manager Roy Hodgson names an unchanged side.

    BBC Radio 5 live presenter Mark Pougatch:

    "Roy Hodgson just been greeted by an Italian lady. I know that because she went for the third kiss on greeting him..."


    Lorcan Murray on Twitter: "I listened to Jerusalem before the previous two games and we won. I'll be doing it before I head to the pub tonight!"

  341. 1837:  

    England's roll of penalty dishonour reads as follows:

    Lost in 2006 to Portugal, lost in 2004 to Portugal, lost in 1998 to Argentina, lost in 1996 to Germany, lost in 1990 to Germany.

    Won in 1996 against Spain.

    Scored 21 of a possible 31.

  342. 1835:  

    Wherever I've been over the last few days, there has been no escape from chat of the dreaded penalty shoot-out. It lingers over every England defeat in recent memory.

    So it's refreshing to come up against a side tonight who are equally as bad from 12 yards.

    BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev:

    "Mario Balotelli arrives at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev -" You can follow Dan on Twitter.

  344. 1832:  

    It is of course six long years since England were in quarter-final action, and we all know how that went down. Wayne Rooney was sent-off and Sven-Goran Eriksson's side lost to Portugal on penalties.

    We do not want a repeat of that tonight...


    Atif Ansari on Twitter: "Khedira scored one, Alonso two, so Gerrard to score three. Defensive midfielders on a roll in the quarters."

    England bowler Steven Finn on Twitter: "Great win! Awesome crowd at Trent Bridge. Alex Hales well played, and happy birthday Stuart Broad. Now for the football! COME ON ENGLAND!"


    Hendry in Kent texts: "16 years after watching my first tournament, I still see Gareth Southgate's penalty going in! Let's do it this year boys, come on England!!!"

  347. 1827:  

    If I had any sort of skill in reading body language, I would say that Mario Balotelli is not starting tonight. He looks thoroughly cheesed off as he sits in the dugout with his head in his hands.

    But as anyone who has seen me on a night out on the tiles can testify, I am useless at interpreting such signals. So he will probably be first name on the sheet.


    BBC News reporter Ben Brown in Kiev: "The atmosphere is building. England fans have taken over the 'Lucky Pub' in Kiev which is about a hundred yards from the stadium complex. There are only a few thousand English and Italians fans here, and they will make up only a small percentage of the crowd in the 60,000 seater Olympic Stadium."

    BBC Radio 5 live presenter Mark Pougatch:

    "Cristina Ballotelli magnificent in her defence of brother Mario on BBC Radio 5 live. If my sisters were listening, that's how you do it!" You can follow Mark on Twitter.

  350. 1824:  

    As Dawkesy said several hours ago, it is a night for omens, no matter how weak they may be. So this could be the perfect time to remind you all that Roy Hodgson took Fulham to a Europa League final just two years ago, beating Juventus on the way.

    So he's nothing to fear from facing Italian opposition - right?


    Brendan in Plymouth texts: "Every Italian defence I have seen in the past has been superior to this. I hope Hodgson really goes for it tonight. They wouldn't be able to handle the pace of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain and a certain Wayne Rooney."

    Michaela in Birmingham texts: "Everyone talking about Italia '90. I was only five, so have no memory of it. I'm hoping this is the year I can tell my future grandkids about! Come on England!!!"

    Anonymous texts: "Nothing gets me in the mood for an England game more than 'Three Lions'. Though Lethal Bizzle's 'Three Little Words' is growing on me."

  352. 1820:  

    Roy Hodgson has just had a very amiable chat with Andrea Pirlo - who could be the main man for Italy tonight. You don't get more relaxed than that from an England manager do you?

  353. 1818:  

    It looks like a glorious evening in Kiev, with England back in the stadium where they beat Sweden last Friday night. A lot has gone on since then, and we are now thoroughly in the midst of knockout football.


    Mario Balotelli's sister, Cristina, on BBC Radio 5 live: "Mario is very calm, nice and determined. I know he wants to do his best. He is very relaxed about tonight's game and confident. He was very playful when I spoke to him. I love him for the way he is. Knowing him, I'm sure he is looking forward to this match because he will meet his friends from England."

  355. 1816:  

    Mario Balotelli has just got off the Italian bus. We'll find out soon enough whether the Manchester City man is playing tonight, but I for one hope he is out there. Quite literally anything could happen.

  356. 1815:  

    We are just over 90 minutes away from kick-off now, so it's high time that you got involved.

    What has been your matchday ritual so far? Any superstitions? Anyone out there missing the match for something extremely silly? Or anyone missing something very important to catch the match? Let me know. Italy fans are more than welcome to join in.

    You can Tweet us via #bbcfootball, and text in on 81111 (UK Only). PUT YOUR NAMES ON THOSE TEXTS THOUGH please. Grazie.


    Ian Beck on Twitter: "Up at 8am in Las Vegas, slightly worse for wear with a bucket of beers ready for the England match! Theo to score the winner!"

  358. 1810:  

    Of course it is. We are being nothing but positive here at BBC towers.

    The England team have just got off their coach in Kiev, led out by a sunglasses-free Roy Hodgson. Unbeaten England manager Roy Hodgson, that is.


    Sean Cawood in Haslemere texts: "Trying to get my England shirt from Italia '90 on. Wife just said "22 years hasn't been good to either of you, has it?" Think she had a tear in her eye. I'm putting it down to pre-match nerves."

  360. 1807:  

    Evening all, how are we feeling? I woke up today with a strange, rumbling sensation in my stomach. I originally put it down to an ill-advised prawn Madras last night, but soon realised that it was in fact a simple case of big-game nerves.

    I don't think I've been excited about an England game in years. This isn't going to end well is it?

  361. 1803:  

    That is the end of my stint in the text commentary chair. I'll now hand over to Mr Tom Rostance, who will guide you to kick-off and beyond. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at expressing myself. Thankfully, we've got the perfect man to express not only how I feel on England v Italy but the whole of life itself. Over to you Lethal Bizzle...


    Hugo in Bristol texts: "This Euros has restored my faith in international football. The World Cup was boring and England were rubbish. But this has been exciting, England have been determined if not brilliant, and England is united in supporting them! Come on England!"


    Graham in Liverpool texts: "So here we go. Another gripping encounter with one of Europe's top national sides. Anything can happen. Really believe that a Balotelli red card is on tonight's agenda. That being said, I will be roaring together with my mates Danny and Jamie and also with the nation. It's coming home."

    Russ texts: "Just watched Rooney win his race at the UK Athletics trial, got to be an omen!"

  364. 1756:  

    Are you still just warming up for this? Not quite yet at fever pitch? Do you need something to push your passion dials up to 11? I'll tell you what you need: an excerpt from Roman philosopher Boethius on fate as read by General Zod from Superman II.

  365. 1752:   
    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty in Kiev:

    "England manager Roy Hodgson admires Italy's technical prowess - but most of all he admires their natural ability to get the job done. He believes they know how to find a way to win but they come up against an England side that has shown similar qualities in coming through tough times against Swede and Ukraine."

  366. 1752:   
    BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev:

    "It's hard to predict who will prevail, it is simply too close to call. Many fans are predicting it could go to a dreaded penalty shoot-out. England will look to Gerrard and Rooney to provide a cutting edge, while Cole and Terry will have to shackle some classy Italian attackers."


    Statisticians Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Andrea Pirlo is one of only two players at Euro 2012 with at least two assists and a goal. The other is Spain's David Silva."

  368. 1751:  

    He may well have been a bit high from the fumes of the Olympic torch, but England legend Sir Bobby Charlton is confident England will win Euro 2012 if they can overcome Italy in Sunday's quarter-final. "If they beat Italy then we will start getting excited. I get a little feeling that if we can get past Italy, who are the toughest and the most physical then I think we have an opportunity," said the 74-year-old. It is up to you now England, do you want to disappoint a septuagenarian knight of the realm and your Queen? Well, do you?!


    James Benson on Twitter: "Stuck in Durham until graduation. Watching the Italian Job to prepare for the match. Rooney to blow the Azzurri's doors off."


    Former England captain Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "I'm going for an England win, 2-1, Rooney & Welbeck at the double! Come on Englaaaaaaaaand!"


    Sim from Deal texts: "Meditating in Majorca. Sending out positive vibes. Lots of Germans here - interested to see who they are cheering. 1-0 England with Terry/Lescott/Carroll (off bench) header from set piece. We can do it."

  372. 1748:  

    If you were wondering what our BBC pundits think of tonight's match then wonder no longer because we've filmed them talking about it. Don't worry, we got their permission. It's nothing seedy. Although there is some gratuitous team on team action.

    BBC commentators Guy Mowbray and Steve Wilson, and former England internationals Alan Shearer and Martin Keown all agree that England will need to be better than they have been so far in the tournament to progress.


    Eric on Twitter: "All showered, shaved and perfumed (even used talcum powder for the first time in my adult life). Going down the pub. Come On England!"

  374. 1741:  

    Dear England players, cut this out and stick it on the changing room wall...

    Several Germany players have openly said they would rather play England than Italy in the semi-finals. "I would prefer England - they suit us better," said Holger Badstuber, while captain Philipp Lahm added: "I would prefer England, just because it would be great to have a classic in the semi-final." Marco Reus concluded: "Rooney is an outstanding player, but we are the better team."


    Felipe Rose on Twitter: "Napoleon once said 'Give me lucky generals' and I think England have theirs in Roy Hodgson."


    Domenico D'Agostino texts: "Am driving back from Aviva Athletics to ensure I get to watch the game tonight. Only problem is that I think England will win."


    Jill from Leamington Spa texts: "I think we are going to witness the Di Matteo effect tonight. New manager, no expectation, makes the players believe in themselves....and the text is history! Come on England!"

  378. 1740:  

    I apologise in advance but I'm going to have to mention the p-word. Yep, if this game is as tight as everyone expects (one bookmaker is offering the same odds for an England and Italy win and a draw) there is a decent chance we could be heading for the first spot-kick resolution of Euro 2012.

    For once, though, we could well end up facing a team has bad as we are at penalty shoot-outs in major tournaments. Italy have lost five times on penalties - the same number of times as England. You may remember Italia 90, when the hosts blew it against Argentina at the same semi-final stage that England lost to West Germany. Or perhaps you recall the 1994 World Cup, when Roberto Baggio's perfect two-point conversion gave Brazil the trophy. Still, they made up for it a bit in 2006.

    If it goes to penalties tonight it'll be a panic-off between fans of the two nations.

  379. 1730:   
    BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev:

    "It's as big as it gets tonight. They haven't won a knockout stage game in a tournament against a so-called 'big nation' away from home ever. It would also be England's first semi-final on foreign soil for 22 years if they won tonight. England came into the tournament with such low expectations but Hodgson has taken the side an awful long way in a short period of time. Italy aren't quite the force of old, this is an opportunity for England to feel they have recovered after the terrible performance at the World Cup two years ago."


    British number one tennis player Anne Keothavong on Twitter: "Can't wait for Wimbledon to start tomorrow, but first it's the footie tonight. Come on England!!!"


    Will R in the Olympic operations centre texts: "Will be watching the game while on night shift! On the plus side, I'm sat infront of sixteen 32inch televisions and three cinema size projectors which will all be tuned into the England... Italian secondees and partners all around, so praying for a victory otherwise the night may well drag on!!!"

  382. 1729:  

    If you want to see Roy in the aforementioned aviators, have a look at our chief football writer Phil McNulty's recent blog. You will also want to read Phil's words, which sum up the weight of history resting on Hodgson and his team's shoulders tonight.

    As Phil concludes, "if England's squad can pull together one more time they can dream about a return to Kiev, erasing disappointments of the past and creating a new chapter in their history."


    Chris Hyland on Twitter: "Going to sneak out and find a bar in Santa Barbara to watch the game... Don't tell the missus... It's our honeymoon!"

  384. 1725:  

    Tonight sees a clash between two bosses currently unbeaten in competitive football in their current job. Roy Hodgson wins, though, because he also hasn't lost in friendlies (albeit only having played a couple).

    So (barring extra-time and penalties) there is a very good chance one of those records will be going tonight. Roy can be very pleased with what he has achieved with the national side so far. With so little time to work with, first job was to make England hard to beat and he has certainly done that.

    He's also winning the charm war with the press (both domestic and foreign). He might want to revise the aviator look, though. It has the air of Tommy Saxondale about it.


    Conor Brown on Twitter: "What about Crystal Palace's goalkeeper Julian Speroni?"

    Malcoff87 on Twitter: "Best player never capped: Billy Bonds."

    Kevin Hudson on Twitter: "The greatest player never to play for England was Sir James Greenhoff. Stoke City legend."

  386. 1720:  

    I know what you're all thinking... this is all well and good Phil, but I am literally tearing my hair out because I've yet to find out what Wigan boss Roberto Martinez thinks about England v Italy.

    Well don't you worry because here is Roberto...

    "The hardest thing for Italy - or for any team playing against England - is scoring goals because England are going to be well organised. They are well set up and frustrate teams. And if you can frustrate players like Balotelli, Di Natale, Cassano - I think they can find it really difficult.

    "We are going to see an England team that is going to be competitive, really, really strong defensively, giving very little away. It will be interesting to see if Italy take the initiative and get on the ball; if they are ones taking risks."

    BBC Radio 5 live presenter Mark Pougatch: GET INVOLVED

    "In situ in the stadium ready for action for BBC Radio 5 live. Alan Shearer, Chris Waddle, Graham Taylor, @Marcotti, @DTguardian, Ashley Cole interview..." You can follow Mark on Twitter.

  388. 1714:  

    The first chinese whispers reportedly coming out of the England camp is that it is indeed an unchanged side from then one that beat Ukraine 1-0. We'll bring you confirmation of this once we get it.

    BBC Sports Editor David Bond:

    "Just been looking at prize money - England have already earned £8.5m at Euro 2012 and can win another £1.6m if they win tonight." You can follow David on Twitter.


    Anonymous texts: "Missing the game tonight. Double-booked with the Mrs. I couldn't get out of an audience with a clairvoyent, fates against me but not England."


    Simone Grattarola on Twitter: "Already 1-0 to Italy after Ferrari trounced McLaren! As a London-Italian, I wish McClaren was still managing England though."

  392. 1711:  

    (Once again) Like him or loath him, you can't deny that Ashley Cole has put in some stellar displays for England, not just at Euro 2012, but throughout his three lions career. If England do make it to the final and Cole plays in all the games up to and including it, it will be his 100th cap.

    "There is unfinished business," Cole told BBC Sport. "I have been lucky enough to play 97 times for England and hopefully I will get 100 in the final.

    "I have never had the joy of winning for my country and I am not getting too far ahead of myself or the team but so far it is going well."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:

    "Media centre at Kiev's Olympic Stadium a hive of activity even three hours before kick-off between England and Italy." You can follow Phil on Twitter.


    Newcastle United defender Danny Simpson on Twitter: "Good luck to England today. I'm going for the boys to win 1-0 and ‪Danny Welbeck‬ to score the only goal."


    Josh Ansell on Twitter: "I really hope England win tonight as I've promised my fiancée I'd give up smoking if we win the Euros. COME ON ENGLAND!"


    Scott Whitton texts: "The streets of Dundee are jumping. You can't move without seeing the famous tricolore and all anyone can hear is canto deli Italiani being belted out proudly, come on lads we can do it!!!!!"

  397. 1705:  

    Like him or loath him, you can't deny that John Terry has been one of the somewhat unsung heroes of England's campaign so far. The Chelsea defender has been a rock at the back alongside Joleon Lescott, especially during times when England's backs have been to the wall (ie. most of the time).

    Roy Hodgson has praised Terry and stated that he has justified his controversial selection. Terry was picked despite facing a charge of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, whose brother Rio was left out of the England squad.

    "From the first minute, he and Joleon have hit things off and their play together is very, very important to us."


    Craig White on Twitter: "Even being a City fan, best player never to play for their country HAS to be Steve Bruce."


    Toby in Newcastle texts: "Was planning to have a pizza tonight with a nice glass of amarone - oh, maybe not."


    Tom in Long Sutton texts: "Mikel Arteta has never been capped, although the competition is a fair standard..."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty: GET INVOLVED

    "Standing at the Allianz Arena U-Bahn at 3.15am after Chelsea's Champions League Final win and a respected member of the media announced, "You know what this means don't you? After what has happened here tonight England will win Euro 2012." If it happens I shall reveal the name." You can follow Phil on Twitter.

  402. 1658:  

    Never let it be said that Italy number one Gianluigi Buffon does not adhere to the goalkeeping union code of conduct. The 34-year-old skipper says England keeper Joe Hart is capable of becoming the world's best. "Together with Manuel Neuer and Salvatore Sirigu, Hart can become the best in the world," Buffon said.

    When a man who has been Serie A keeper of the year eight times, was named by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics as the goalkeeper of the 21st century and who was one of Pele's 125 best footballers ever tells you you're good, that means you're good.

    I think you're good as well Joe. And I played the titular role in my primary school play, The Littlest Christmas Tree, so I know what I'm talking about.


    Anonymous texts: "Steve Ogrizovic has to be the best goalie to never win an international cap! The guy was a hero for the Sky Blues back in the day!"

    BBC Sport's Dan Walker:

    "I've done a piece on Balotelli for tonight's game but wait until you see the little film just before kick-off... It'll get you." You can follow Dan on Twitter.

    MOTD's Jurgen Klinsmann

    on Twitter: "Walked through the Fan Zone in Kiev, such a great atmosphere between English and Italian fans!"

  406. 1650:   
    BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev:

    "There's no doubt this is a very close game to call. England have a golden opportunity here tonight to set-up a chance to avenge their humiliating defeat to Germany at the World Cup in South Africa two years ago and put some pride into the national team. One suspects, though, that they'll have to raise their game beyond what they have already done at this tournament."


    Owen in the car back from the airport in a surprisingly sunny Manchester texts: "Most talented footballer never to get an international cap is surely Tony Hibbert, the Everton stalwart?"

  408. 1650:  

    As the analysis piece on our site points out, "Pirlo's ability to dictate the tempo of Italy's play will have a large bearing on whether they are patient or choose to counter attack".

    It continues: "The Italian team has already shown they are more comfortable in possession than England despite three of their four goals coming from set-pieces."

    And adds: "There is danger lurking in Italy's attack, though. Joleon Lescott will be more than aware of his City team-mate Balotelli, yet it is only in the Sweden game when England faced Zlatan Ibrahimovic that they came unstuck."

    It concludes, though: "With little to choose between the two teams, the prospect of extra-time and penalties looms large."

    England v Italy... done. No need to waste your time watching it now.

    BBC Sports Editor David Bond:

    "In Kiev, 6,000 England fans expected for the Italy game - biggest contingent at the Euros so far. Only 2,000 Italians apparently." You can follow David on Twitter.


    Thomas Jacobsen on Twitter: "Malta about to blow, half the population siding with Italy, the other with England."

  411. 1646:  

    One man who has excelled throughout this tournament for England is Steven Gerrard, who finally seems to have been given a role that harnesses his undoubted ability on the international scene.

    The England captain has set up three of England's five goals at Euro 2012 and has a pass success rate of 86.4%. This is better than his Italian counterpart, Andrea Pirlo, who has two assists and a pass rate of 85.4%. The Italian does have a goal, though, which has so far eluded Gerrard.


    Simone from Manchester texts: "My dad is Italian, my mum English. They live apart but this weekend they both came to visit. My dad all the way from Italy. Think it could get messy? One is wearing an italy shirt, the other an england one. They have been nagging at each other since they got here... I though football brings people together!!!!! And I don't know who to support! Who's side should I be on?"

  413. 1640:  

    I've just corrected my earlier assertion that Paolo Di Canio was an Italian international. He in fact surprisingly never won a cap for Italy. That's 1-0 to Michael Ricketts. This opens up an interesting debate: who is the most talented footballer never to win an international cap?

  414. 1638:  

    BBC News reporter Ben Brown in Kiev: "England supporters are just getting in a few last drinks before the game. British police are saying there are about 6,000 fans here. There has not been a single arrest and the police are praising the England fans' behaviour. All the England fans I've spoken to are very optimistic."


    Will in North London texts: "We should create our own BBC song! How about for the chorus "we've got Stevie G, and upfront Wayne Rooney" to the tune of The Monkees' timeless classic Daydream Believer. Dare to dream, Phil."

    We'd have to run it by Peter Reid first.

  416. 1635:  

    Swindon boss and Italian Paolo Di Canio has taken Bonucci's words and given them a little twist. He agrees that England are playing like Italy, but Italy from 30 years ago. "Hodgson is an old fox and they look like an Italian team from the 80s," said Di Canio. You can cut the sexual tension between him and Roy with a knife.


    Jamie Holland on Twitter: "Staying up all night to watch the game, 1:45am kick off time in Thailand, have to work at 7:30am! Let's go England."


    Ade texts: "Re Jonty Leibowitz. Yes. Yes you are."


    Patrick Greenberg on Twitter: "I work in an Italian restaurant & I've been taking rubbish from the Italian staff there all week. Need a win to shut them all up!"

  420. 1631:  

    We're wary of the Italians, but how do they feel about us (food aside)? Well, they seem to believe that we're not so disimilar to them as regards our style of football.

    "England have become more like an Italian team thanks to Capello and other Italian managers in the Premier League," says Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci. "They have improved a lot over the last two years."

    Is it just me or has Bonucci managed to sneak in a bit of passive abuse in there?


    Mark Tallentire on Twitter: "Beer ready, music on (England songs obviously) St Georges Flag out, lads on their way, then pub later for the match! COME ON ENGLAND!"


    Rob in Farnham texts: "My wife served up linguine bolognese at lunchtime today much to the astonishment of myself and my two boys!!! We were about to mention that it was bad taste, but thought better of it as she was brandishing a saucepan at the time...."

    Caroline from Evesham (who must calm herself!) texts: "So nervous/excited! Trying to cook roast dinner, listening to footie songs, thoughts ranging from us winning 3-0 to us losing 1-0 by some sort of controversy or Stevie G missing an open goal... I'm sure you get the gist!"

  423. 1625:  

    As Balotelli is Man City fan Noel Gallagher's favourite player this seems as apt a time as any to bring you some quotes from the musician regarding England at Euro 2012, Andy Carroll and "main man" Steven Gerrard.

    "For as long as I can remember [England] has never had such luck," said Noel. "Now we seem to be getting it for once. I can see our game against Italy being goalless, a grind and us winning on penalties.

    "I don't think England can improve, they can only change the system and play Andy Carroll up front.

    "The quality is going to step up tenfold now we are playing Italy and, in Pirlo, they have arguably the best midfield player of the tournament."


    Nick in Berkhamsted texts: "I have an Italian Grandmother and a half Italian mother. I might get cut out of a few wills tonight if England win.... Oh well."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:

    "Never mind suits and bow ties for "Back Home" on Top of the Pops in 1970...Coates involved as well."

    "Working On A Dream" springs to mind right away."

    "And very obviously "Glory Days" - although not one of Bruce's better efforts in my opinion."

    You can follow Phil on Twitter.


    Michael Dhanda on Twitter: "I am not superstitious but I have my retro World Cup '90 top on. I haven't washed it since the first game and so far we are undefeated!!!"

  427. 1619:  

    As for Balotelli himself? Well, he claims he is not driven by the doubters. After all, he can't fly unless he has genuine happy thoughts.

    "I don't have to show anything to anyone, not to England, not to Italy and not to anyone," said Balotelli. "I'm not a Super Mario or a Stupid Mario, I'm just Mario."

    Of course, we're doing all this talking about Balotelli and there's no guarantee he'll start. Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale began the Italians' last game - the 2-0 win over Republic of Ireland (although Mario came off the bench and scored).


    Arthur Everett on Twitter: "Dislocated my shoulder yesterday night - any England goals are going to lead to some seriously painful celebrations!"


    Carl working in Brazil texts: "I will be standing on the end of my bed with hand on heart belting out the national anthem. England win today will force me to grovel to my Irish boss to fly me home on Wednesday instead of Thursday as will be in the air at the time of the semi final. Come on England!!!!"


    Jonty Leibowitz on Twitter: "Am I alone in feeling that We're On The Ball by Ant and Dec for the 2002 World Cup is an under appreciated masterpiece?"

  431. 1614:  

    Inevitably, a certain Mr Balotelli's name has been uttered on more than a few occasions in the build-up to this game. The Manchester City striker is a truly dangerous foe. Just ask Captain Hook.

    However, he is as inconsistent/bonkers as he is gifted. It all depends which Mario shows up. His club team-mate James Milner is hoping it is the former. "There are two Marios," said Milner. "There is the one who turns up sometimes in training when it is a bit cold and he is not too interested. The other one is when he really wants it and he is a special talent."


    Steve in Rotherham texts: "Best England anthem is Meat Pie, Sausage Roll by Grandad Roberts and Elvis from World Cup 1998."


    Edward McCosh on Twitter: "Watching The Italian Job now, and Escape To Victory before the semi-final. Preparation is everything."

  434. 1609:  

    So what do England make of today's opponents? Well, from the evidence of recent interviews, they are certainly not underestimating them.

    England captain Steven Gerrard says failure to get to grips with Italy's midfield in Sunday's quarter-final is likely to see his side exit the tournament.

    "Myself and Scott Parker need to control the midfield," said Gerrard. "Italy have superb players in the middle of the park and if they take control we will be in trouble."

    The three Italian players in question are Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta and Claudio Marchisio, who are entitled to think Gerrard-Parker-Milner is a battle they can win after going toe to toe with Spain's midfield.


    Charlie Rheinberg on Twitter: "Slept on a hostel sofa in Lima after an eight hour bus journey from the Andes to enable me to watch todays game. Come on England!"


    Simon Trenchard on Twitter: "Back Home by the 1970 England World Cup Squad, all dressed in suits and bow ties on TOTP!"

    Jamie Birch on Twitter: "Best football song ever is Vindaloo. It's not just about football, but sums England up great."

    Melanie Wilbourne on Twitter: "Absolutely has to be World in Motion, takes me back every time to the amazing summer of Italia '90.... magic."

  437. 1603:  

    Soon after that win, England also battled to that now famous 0-0 draw in Rome, which saw Paul Ince's head take one for the team and Glenn Hoddle's side qualify for the 1998 World Cup. Simce then, there have been two meetings, both won by Italy - 1-0 in Turin in 2000 when Peter Taylor took charge of England for the first and only time and 2-1 at Elland Road in 2002.

    The two will meet for only the second time at a European Championships tonight. Marco Tardelli's 79th-minute goal was the difference between the sides when they met in Turin in the 1980 group stage, effectively ending England's bid. Italy reached the last four.


    Anonymous texts: "So nervous before the game that I forgot the Mrs' name... Come on England, make it worth me being in the doghouse."


    Andrew in Newcastle texts: "Full English Breakfast, roast beef and Yorkshires for lunch, afternoon tea and then fish and chips followed by strawberries and cream for dinner in front of the football. I'm sure everyone would agree it's the perfect culinary build up to this evening's main event. Well, everyone but my doctor......."


    Andy Glenister on Twitter: "Doing a food stock at work and we had three blocks of English chedder, but only one Parmesan cheese.... a clear sign!"

  441. 1559:  

    While we're staring back into the past why don't we have a gander at past meetings between England and Italy? I don't know why I'm asking you, you don't get a say. So we'll do it anyway.

    The two countries have met 22 times in the past, with Italy having won nine of those encounters to England's seven. Fairly even right? Well, no, because the last of England's wins came 15 years ago. That was a 2-0 win at Le Tournoi, with Ian Wright and Paul Scholes scoring the goals.


    Jack in Salford texts: "If this is what Roy has done in a month, just think what the World Cup could hold for us! England to win 2-0!!!"

    Oh no, Jack's gone off on one again. Someone restrain him! Nurse! Nurse!!!


    David Oakley on Twitter: "The best football song is The Footie Song by Adam and Joe... obviously"

    Andrew Potts on Twitter: "A strange one, but Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti is a corker for encapsulating the spirit of magical footballing moments."

    Chris Weatherill on Twitter: "They'll always hit you & hurt you, defend & attack, there's only one way to beat them, get round the back." John Barnes '90."

  444. 1553:  

    It has been 16 years since England reached the semi-finals of Euro 1996, which I absolutely, positively remember. Clear as crystal. Honest... ahem. That is 16 years since we took the Netherlands to the cleaners, 16 years since Gazza stretched for that cross at the far post (the one you still think he's going to make every time you see it), and 16 years since Gareth Southgate's penalty.

    Since then, England's record reads as such: group stage (2000), quarter-final (2004), DNQ (2008) and now quarter-final. It's not the prettiest roll of honour for a major nation.


    Niall Hughes on Twitter: "I have had one caeser salad and two bacon sandwhiches today. Clearly a sign from the culinary gods!"


    Joe in Wellingborough texts: "Got my Gazza Italia '90 shirt on, good luck charm or am i a misguided fool?"


    Helles Mammut on Twitter: "Could very well be a first ever, but all Germans are rooting for England today as they have never beaten Italy at a tournament."

  448. 1544:  

    Failure. It is a familiar word for this England team. It is 46 years since they tasted their one and only triumph in a major international tournament. The following years has seen them flirt very, very briefly with the sublime, but more often with the ridiculous.

    At the last European Championship, in Austria and Switzerland, somehow the rest of the continent managed to cope without us due to our inability to qualify. Two years later, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it might have been better if we hadn't made it.

    Current England skipper Steven Gerrard is determined to use the pain of those two experiences to drive himself on and has called for his team-mates to do the same.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:

    "Nasri swears at a journalist. Blokhin offers one outside. England & the media? Respect & positivity. Just worth noting."

    "Straw poll of chats around Kiev reveals cautious optimism about England's chances against Italy - with emphasis on 'cautious'."

    "World In Motion" played as mood music on the England media bus to Kiev's Olympic Stadium. Give me "Back Home" every time." You can follow Phil on Twitter.


    Chris in Leeds texts: "England to field same 11 as against Ukraine, why change? We're difficult to break down and with Rooney, Welbeck and Young going forward we've got plenty of pace and goal-scoring ability. Big chance for England to get into the semis today!"

  451. 1535:  

    So, yeah, England v Italy in a whole game of football for a place in the final four of the Championships of Europe. On the team news front, England are expected to be unchanged, which means they stick with Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck up front (not controversial) and retain James Milner and Ashley Young (judging by some of your tweets, slightly more controversial).

    Italy have one significant injury problem, in defence, with Giorgio Chiellini definitely out of the game with a thigh injury. His Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci set to take his place.

    So, the two teams... discuss.


    John Roberts on Twitter: "Got on my Italian scooter, rode into a torrential downpour. Bought England shirt, sun beamed through the clouds. Ergo ‪England‬ win!"


    Abhinav Reddy on Twitter: "In my dream last night, England won the Euro defeating Italy, Germany and Spain consecutively!!! You've heard it here first."

  454. 1530:  

    As she has been all tournament, Gabby Logan is here to bring us the latest from the England camp. This includes a bizarre snippet from the recent Italy press conference, during which Mario Balotelli was asked if he was Peter Pan or a man? I assume this was a question designed to suggest he hasn't grown up, not that he flies round London at night wearing green tights and a little cap. "I could be Peter Pan because I do my own thing and I'm free," replied Balotelli. "So I could be Peter Pan, but I'm more of a man than Peter Pan." But we all know what happened when Peter Pan grew into a man. Robin Williams. And nobody wants that.

    BBC Radio 5 live senior football reporter Ian Dennis:

    "World in Motion being played on the media bus to the stadium. Turn it up loud! The best England song ? Now back home playing." You can follow Ian on Twitter.


    Chris texts: "Thought I'd do a few hours of my MSc dissertation today before the match. Since I started it last month I've been keeping track on the hours I've spent doing it so far. I've just seen that I've reached 66 so I've decided to not do anymore until the end of the tournament. A good reason to put off doing any more work until it's all over!"


    Punntz on Twitter: "Why be optimistic? It only hurts! Lethal Bizzle should've recorded Three Little Words..."Out on Penalties"."

  458. 1526:  

    Two slightly more interesting paper approaches this morning come from the Daily Express, who declare, A Royal Roar For England, in reference to the fact that the Queen will be keeping across tonight's game. I wonder if, like my mum during the 1990 World Cup quarter-final with Cameroon, her majesty will storm off up to bed if England go 2-0 down. See it through, ma'am, see it through.

    Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror has quotes from Mario Balotelli's sister, who suggests "he's feeling the pressure" and could "freak out" against England. Alright, hands up who wants to see Balotelli freak out? OK, that's one, two, three... oh it's everyone.


    Nitin Aggarwal on Twitter: "Lewis Hamilton crashing out of the Spanish GP on the last lap is a sign of England losing the match on penalties against Italy in ‪Euro 2012."

  460. 1520:  

    First things first, what angle have this morning's papers taken to get us all in the spirit? Have they captured the mood of the nation with a mixture of chest-thumping patriotism and mild xenophobia?

    In true Sun style, they've gone with "Caesar the Day", in reference to captain Steven Gerrard's Andrew Marvell-esque demands to his less than coy country, the Daily Star have opted for a similar approach with "Believe", while the Independent went with "How Blair Misled Cabinet over Iraq". Proper news? On a day like this? Fools.

    Meanwhile, I forgot that Euro 1996 happened. All together now: slow, slow handclap.


    SamoanBighead on Twitter: "This is the most confident I've felt about England reaching the semi-finals since I was born."


    Dave in London texts: "Can't see Milner starting today or I hope not, now is the time to unleash the Ox on the Euros. Whoever plays though, COME ON ENGLAND!!!!"

  463. 1510:  

    I'm sure you're just dying to get involved with a mixture of considered insight and borderline jingoistic, frothing at the mouth madness. Fortunately, as the only option open to you is Twitter and text, we'll all be shielded from the messiness of the latter.

    So, what do you think about this little game we've got on our hands tonight? What are you predictions on selection, style, scores and scorers? This morning I was rustling up some pasta for lunch and accidentally dropped a piece of farfalle (action man bow-tie) before crushing it under my foot. I saw this as an omen for what England are going to do to Italy in Kiev. What totally ludicrous signs are you drawing optimism from? You can tweet all this to the hashtag #bbcfootball or text us on 81111 (UK). Make sure to put your name on the texts.

  464. 1505:  

    Yes, it's a cracking way to end your week: 90 minutes of nerve-wracking football torture courtesy of the national side's bi-yearly attempt to end what is rapidly closing in on half a century of international hurt.

    The action itself is taking place in Kiev but it is sure to be rocking from Marshall Meadows Bay to Lizard Point with rediscovered hope and expectation (heaven help us all).

  465. 1500:  

    England v Italy. You probably dreamt about it last night, woke up thinking about it this morning and have been slowly getting more and more obsessed by it as the day has gone on. And as of now, you've got fewer than five hours to get yourself mentally prepared for another Euro adventure on the three lions rollercoaster.

    So get your skates on, mate, get your skates on, mate, no bib around your Gregory Peck today. Hey! This is the self-preservation society... and England are about to undertake their Italian job.

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