Pirlo rubs salt in England’s wounds

Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo has criticised England, stating that Roy Hodgson’s men were playing for penalties and did not deserve to beat the Azzurri.

The Three Lions were beaten 4-2 on spot-kicks after a 0-0 draw following extra-time of their Euro 2012 quarter-final on Sunday, with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missing their efforts.

The Juventus midfielder scored a cheeky chipped penalty straight down the middle, and has revealed that Joe Hart’s intimidation tactics played a part in his decision-making process.

“I saw England’s keeper Joe Hart making strange movements and decided to take my kick that way,” The Sun quote Pirlo as saying.

“Hart was fired up and he had been diving around, so it was easier to take it like that.

“Scoring the way I did put pressure on to Young, and that is what made him miss his kick.

“I did not fear being ridiculed by the English. They just wanted to play for penalties and we deserved to beat them, even though it had to go to a shootout.

“We knew we could have dominated them and we could have played better. We certainly ought to have won the game earlier on, as that would have saved some of our energy for the semi-final.

“England are a good team but we prepared ourselves very well for them.

“Mario Balotelli wasted some chances for us but he put himself about well and worked very hard.

“All we want is for him to be in position when the goal chances arrive,” he concluded.

Italy take on Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-finals on Thursday.

By Gareth McKnight