Hodgson cannot fault players

Image: Roy Hodgson feels England can hold their heads high after penalty shootout defeat

England manager Roy Hodgson believes his players can hold their heads high after their quarter-final exit to Italy on penalties.

They have done a fantastic job for their country, says England boss

England manager Roy Hodgson believes his players can hold their heads high after their quarter-final exit to Italy on penalties. With the scores goalless after extra-time despite Italy's domination, Ashley Young and Ashley Cole both missed from 12 yards before Alessandro Diamanti sealed England's fate. It was a backs-to-the-wall effort from the Three Lions, although they did have their moments and Hodgson was determined to cling to the positives after the game. "I thought the chances were there for both teams," he said. "I actually thought we created some very good chances ourselves. "But as the half wore on, and extra-time, I thought we were tiring badly and we weren't able to establish enough good possession in the midfield so they came at us time and time again. "In some ways, you might have even preferred it if they'd have got a goal in that time when they were playing well as that's a little bit less of a cruel way to lose than on penalties. "We've gone out but we've gone out without actually losing the game and I think we've gone out with our heads held high. "I personally think the lads have done a fantastic job for their country and I also think that people have appreciated it. "I really can't fault the players for their effort. Towards the end we had a lot of players out there running on empty really. "Tired legs, fighting off cramp - but they kept going right to the end.


"But when you go to penalties you have a chance. Unfortunately it was Italy who took that chance and not us. "The five penalty takers we have are good ones and we've been doing a fair amount in training with Ashley Young smashing in penalties on a regular basis so of course you hope. "I know everyone in this country has an obsession with penalties and that's going to get even worse now but the fact is you can't reproduce the tired legs. "You can't reproduce the pressure. You can't reproduce the feeling of nervous tension. They stood up to it better than we did, (Andrea) Pirlo's penalty being a classic example." Indeed, Pirlo produced the pick of the penalties with a deft chipped effort to deceive Joe Hart and it capped a marvellous display from the Juventus man. Hodgson knows the player well from his time at Inter Milan and admits it was a challenge to keep the playmaker quiet. He said: "He was very good wasn't he? I've worked with him in the past and I know what a very good player he is. He seemed to always find time and room and very rarely wasted a pass. "We worked hard to keep him in check but obviously a player of that quality you can only keep in check to a certain extent. He will find a way of getting the ball even though you get people around him."
The result means England's wait for a knockout victory against a major footballing nation on foreign soil goes on. But Hodgson believes these players are capable of putting the run to an end. "It's only a matter of time," he added. "If this group of players continue to show the same degree of determination and will to be a team and work so hard as a team we've got quality players who can come into the squad who will add to the competition. "So I'm convinced it won't be that long before we beat a top nation. We had our chance today. We came close to taking it but not quite. "But I think we've got to keep building on the work we've done at this tournament and make sure that the good things that we've done remain and work on some of the things we could've done a little bit better."

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