Ipswich: Fans despair as England head home from Euro 2012

THERE was a tangible sense of gloom in the air as England’s quarter-final tie against Italy went all the way to penalties.

With pubs across Ipswich and Felixstowe packed with expectant supporters, hopes were high as the match kicked off in Kiev, that England could pull off a win against the Azzurri.

A packed Isaacs on the Quay was full of excitement at the start of the evening. Roy Hodgson’s men had already defied expectations by finishing top of the group – and fans were cheering Roy’s boys on all the way.

But after an open first half, where England rarely threatened the Italian goal, the second half saw the team stuck in their own half - a theme which dominated much of extra time.

And as the inevitable penalty shoot-out loomed, groans of “oh-no” resonated from supporters in pubs across the town.

After the end of extra time the nerves of many were at breaking-point.

But after Riccardo Montolivo missed Italy’s second penalty and Wayne Rooney put England into the lead, there was a real sense of hope that we could finally break our penalty shoot-out curse.

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Friends held on to each other thinking the Three Lions could make it to the semi-finals of the European Championships for the first time since 1996.

But after Ashley Young missed his spot kick and Ashley Cole after him – thousands of fans resigned themselves to the sense of inevitability, England were going to be defeated on penalties, yet again.

And Alessandro Diamanti was on hand to convert the winning strike as fans’ hopes turned to despair.

Watching the match in a packed Holbrook Swan pub, Luke Holmes, 30, said: “What a disappointment - not the fact we lost on penalties but the way the team played.

“If England had gone out after really having a go at winning, it would be tough but wouldn’t have left such a bitter taste.

“No one wants us to win playing like that.”

And Jamie Roberts, 27 from Ipswich added: “Gutted to go out having been so close, but in fairness Italy dominated and wasted several chances. That penalty from Pirlo was sheer quality; shame it wasn’t the winner.”

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