England manager Roy Hodgson defended Ashley Young and Ashley Cole after they failed to score in the Euro 2012 penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy. England were outplayed for most of a quarter-final that finished goalless after 120 minutes, before Italy won 4-2 on spot-kicks. Captain Steven Gerrard says he and his team-mates are "heartbroken" by their exit from Euro 2012 following the penalty shoot-out loss. It was the sixth time England had been beaten on spot-kicks in a major tournament after battling to a goalless draw in the quarter-final in Kiev. Andrea Pirlo's chipped spot-kick was the crowning glory during a sparkling performance as Italy secured a semi-final tie against Germany. Although the margin of victory was narrow, in the 120 minutes beforehand England were given a lesson in the value of possession by the 33-year-old Juventus midfielder. Pirlo was by far the game's leading passer with 131 passes. England's highest passer was Ashley Cole with 44.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque admits his "drained" side face a disadvantage in their Euro 2012 semi-final with Portugal on Wednesday. Xabi Alonso's double earned Spain a comfortable 2-0 win over France on Saturday to set up a last-four meeting with their neighbours in Donetsk.
Portugal booked their place by beating Czech Republic 1-0 two days earlier. Del Bosque said: "We have two fewer days to rest than them. It is a small handicap."
Samir Nasri Row
France manager Laurent Blanc said Samir Nasri's row with a French journalist was bad for the image of both the midfielder and the national team. Nasri lashed out at the media after France meekly lost 2-0 to Spain in their Euro 2012 quarter-final.
"It is very regrettable but it's a problem between Samir and the press," Blanc told French television. "It is very, very bad for his image but when this is done when he's with France it's also bad for the team's image."
He added: "From what I gathered, he lacked respect towards the journalist who at some point also lacked respect towards him."
Nasri's reaction of putting his finger to his lips in France's 1-1 draw with England in their first group game against England was also believed to have been aimed at the French media.
Blanc said: "I had told him what I thought about this (after the first incident) but apparently he did not get the message."
Nasri was once referred to as a ‘rat in the dressing room’ by his former Arsenal team-mate William Gallas, and is the player identified – anonymously of course – by members of the current squad as the leading source of friction in the French camp. The Man City midfielder, turned on a reporter from Agence France Presse (AFP) with a four-letter outburst when asked for his thoughts. "You are looking for sh**, looking for trouble," he is reported to have said. "F*** you, go f*** your mother, you son of a bitch."
He then offered the reporter outside, before being hustled away to the team coach, leaving Blanc to pick up the pieces of yet another PR disaster for the Football Federation Francais (FFF).