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Germany in PKs? It's a done deal

Germany’s Jonas Hector, left, and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, center, celebrate with teammates after defeating Italy in penalty kicks to book a place in the semifinals Thursday.

Associated Press

Germany’s Jonas Hector, left, and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, center, celebrate with teammates after defeating Italy in penalty kicks to book a place in the semifinals Thursday.

BORDEAUX, France — Germany ended 54 years of misery against Italy at major tournaments by taking a familiar route to victory: the penalty shootout.

Jonas Hector lifted the so-called "Italian curse" Saturday by converting the 18th kick of one of the wildest shootouts in European Championship history, clinching a 6-5 victory and a place in the semifinals.

"I took my heart in my hand," said Hector, Germany's left back, "and just wanted to make sure it went in."

It did — but only just. Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon guessed the right way but dived over Hector's kick. Buffon, 38, walked off in tears.

A cagey match between Europe's two most successful soccer nations finished 1-1 after extra time, with Leonardo Bonucci's 78th-minute penalty for Italy canceling out a 65th-minute strike by Mesut Ozil.

In the shootout, Bonucci was one of seven players who failed to score, with German captain Bastian Schweinsteiger also blazing over the net when he could have sealed victory with PKs tied 2-2.

"I've never experienced a penalty shootout like it before," German keeper Manuel Neuer said.

It was Germany's sixth straight victory in PKs since losing the Euro 1976 final to Czechoslovakia, and its first competitive win over Italy in nine tries dating to 1962. That run included defeats in the knockout stages at three World Cups — including the 1982 final — and the Euro 2012 semis.

Germany, the World Cup champion, plays Thursday in Marseille against the winner of today's France-Iceland match.

Germany in PKs? It's a done deal 07/02/16 [Last modified: Saturday, July 2, 2016 10:23pm]
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