By Mark Meadows
KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) - Italy and England, who meet in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Sunday, have dreadful records in penalty shootouts with the Azzurri's 2006 World Cup final triumph a rare bright spot in an otherwise sorry tale of woe.
The chances that the game in Kiev goes the distance appear quite high with players and pundits all saying the two defensively-minded sides are evenly matched. The average bookmaker odds on the first 0-0 of the tournament are just 11-2.
Their painful experience with spot kicks began in the 1990 World Cup when both teams were eliminated in semi-finals which have become etched in the tortured psyches of every Italian and English soccer fan.
Memories of Chris Waddle's kick sailing over the bar against Germany in Turin still give grown men nightmares while Roberto Donadoni began his doomed relationship with penalties by missing for co-hosts Italy against Argentina.
Italy went one stage further at the 1994 World Cup in the United States but it only made the despair greater as Roberto Baggio, the divine ponytail, sent his kick into the Pasadena sky as Brazil won the final on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Euro 96 in England promised much for the host nation after they actually beat Spain on spot-kicks in the last eight but another semi-final meeting with Germany went to penalties following a 1-1 draw and again ended in heartbreak.
Gareth Southgate's scuffed effort was easily saved by Andreas Koepke and the mood in England matched the grey shirts their fallen heroes wore that day.
The misery continued two years later when Paul Ince and David Batty failed from the spot as Argentina prevailed on penalties in the World Cup second round after a 2-2 draw.
Italy were not to be outdone when it came to penalty incompetence and lost to hosts and eventual winners France in a shootout in the quarter-finals following a forgettable 0-0 draw.
The Azzurri suddenly worked out how to take penalties at Euro 2000 and won the semi-final 3-1 on spot-kicks - but only against co-hosts the Netherlands who also have a poor shootout record. Italy lost 2-1 to France in the final.
It was England's turn to revert to type in Euro 2004 with a shootout defeat by hosts Portugal in the quarter-finals when David Beckham skied his kick way up into the Estadio da Luz and blamed a dodgy penalty spot.
Portugal were again England's nemesis two years later at the World Cup with another quarter-final defeat on penalties as Wayne Rooney was sent off and Jamie Carragher missed his twice-taken kick in a 3-1 shootout loss following a 0-0 draw.
The 2006 finals in Germany were, of course, the crowning glory for Italy with Fabio Grosso confidently striking in the winning penalty as Marcello Lippi's men scored all five spot- kicks to edge out France after a 1-1 draw.
The Italians penalty luck did not last, however, and a Euro 2008 last-eight elimination by eventual winners Spain came courtesy of a 0-0 draw and a 4-2 shootout defeat when Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale, who could play on Sunday, missed.
Donadoni, then Italy coach, had succumbed to the dreaded spot-kicks yet again and the defeat cost him his job.
Something will have to give if Sunday's game goes to penalties but it could be a very long night.
(Additional reporting by Tim Collings; Editing by Ed Osmond)
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