Manuel Neuer was Germany’s hero as Joachim Low’s side reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 by beating Italy 6-5 on penalties in a dramatic shoot-out in Bordeaux.
The Bayern Munich keeper made two crucial saves in the shoot-out after the game had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.
A nervy 30 minutes of extra time brought no more goals, so it went to penalties and Neuer saved brilliantly from Matteo Darmian and Leonardo Bonucci, who had earlier equalised for Italy from the penalty spot in the 78th minute.
That goal came after Mesut Ozil had put the Germans ahead, but the Arsenal star was one of seven players to miss during the shoot- out.
It was a night of high drama and meant Germany have finally beaten Italy in tournament football for the first time in nine attempts.
The opening hour was largely forgettable, with both sides playing a chess-like tactical game and determined not to concede first.
Low had switched from a flat back four to a three-man defence for the first time in the tournament, and had another early change to make when Sami Khedira limped off with a groin strain after 15 minutes.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had not played more than 23 minutes of any game for six months, replaced him and soon had a header ruled out for pushing Mattia De Sciglio in the build-up.
Thomas Muller, who had not scored all tournament, showed his lack of confidence with a tame shot straight at Gianluigi Buffon. Italy did not manage much more, with Stefano Sturaro having a powerful shot deflected away and little else on target.
But it all changed when Ozil opened the scoring with his 20th goal for Germany and first of the tournament. Mario Gomez played a clever reverse pass to Jonas Hector, and the wideman cut the ball back for Ozil to clip a half-volley into the ground and past Buffon.
Germany’s fans celebrated raucously, and they almost had a second goal to cheer when Giorgio Chiellini got a toe to the ball and sent it towards his own goal before Buffon made a spectacular save, tipping the ball over the bar.
It took a penalty to finally beat Neuer, who had not conceded a goal in Germany’s previous four games. Jerome Boateng was the guilty man, meeting a cross with his arms above his head, and Bonucci kept his cool to put the penalty past Neuer.
Suddenly the pace increased as both teams went for the goal that would put them in the semi-finals, although a rash of yellow cards meant a number of players from both sides would miss it.
Graziano Pelle had a shot deflected wide of the German goal, and De Sciglio hit the side-netting from long range.
Extra time brought little else of note, but then came the real drama, and Neuer stood tall to become the hero of the hour for Germany and break the Italian hoodoo