by Darren Walsh

Now this is obviously a very tough game to call due to the equal abilities of the two teams, but Alan Hansen has just compared Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard as if they’re the same type of player.

Narrow Italian team, not that Milner and Young will take advantage.  Walcott might enjoy himself if he gets on though.

The BBC pundits are really outdoing themselves as Alan Shearer has just said that Balotelli has won nothing in his career.  It hasn’t been that long since last May has it?  And didn’t he win stuff at Inter?

Oh good, Mark Lawrenson is commentating.   I always enjoy his attempts at humour.  NOT.

De Rossi hits the bar, Buffon saves from point blank range from Johnson….this is already better than yesterday’s game.

England are pretty much in control here, they’ve got so much more pace than the Italians too.  However, they’ll have to score a goal in these periods of domination.

Daniele De Rossi is wearing one long sleeve and one short one.  He should have done that with his socks as well for the full Kerry Kittles tribute.

Cassano keeps shooting from long range, with varying degrees of success.  Balotelli meanwhile is playing on John Terry and getting plenty of chances.  His reaction after missing each one suggests that if he doesn’t find the net soon, he might do something stupid with the stress of it all.

At least he’s got half time to calm down a bit.  I’m hoping for a lot more quality to come.  There isn’t one good striker on the field and I never thought that Andy Carroll could be the answer to such problems, but here we are.

More chances for Italy; they’re in control of the game and England need to respond.

Maybe a few changes will help; Carroll and Walcott on.  Have two more maligned players ever come on together that a country needed to come good?

Getting the big fella on; Roy Hodgson may have managed all over the world but he’s still English.

Young and Gerrard are both having a rough game; normally John Terry has to block shots to cover for his own mistakes, but tonight he has to do it because they keep giving the ball away.

If Rooney has been asked to stay close to Pirlo, he’s doing a terrible job.

Nocerino misses a chance and does a weird jazz hands routine afterwards.  I assume he was complaining about something, or maybe he was doing an impromptu audition for Chicago.

Guy Mowbray says of Rooney’s bicycle kick chance “when you want it to happen, it doesn’t.”  He must be a Man City fan.

That was the last chance before full time is reached; the much expected extra period has been reached.

Jürgen Klinsmann is asked for his view; “England have to stay positive” says the man who can’t imagine anything even remotely negative.  He also sounds happy, probably thinking about how easy Germany will have it with two extra days rest and then a game against a technically deficient, knackered team.

If Jordan Henderson can’t look competent in matches against Fulham and West Brom, how can he perform against Pirlo and Co?  Though we said the same thing about Glenn Whelan and he…..oh never mind.

Rooney gives the ball away, Balotelli almost gets in behind the defence.  That’s pretty much the two main actions of the game thus far.

Lawrenson sounds like he’s about to cry every time England lose possession.

Jürgen on the mic again at half time of extra time; “You just have to get to penalties and then win it.”  Spoken with all the confidence of a German talking about penalty kicks.

Graceless comment by Lawrenson about Capello saying that it’s only the accommodation that he should be thanked for, seemingly forgetting that he was the one in charge for qualification.

Rooney is totally shot; he’s having about as much effect on the game as I am.

Italy score but its offside; the relief in the commentary voices is palpable.

Somehow we’ve got to penalties; if Italy lose this they’ll feel like Holland did in EURO 2000 after what Italy themselves did to them.

Balotelli shows why he’s such a good spot kick taker, even with Hart making faces at him.

Gerrard matches it by finding the same spot of the net.

Montolivo with a miss, wide of the target.

Rooney scores; first good thing he’s done all game.

Pirlo with the Panenka, beautifully done.

Young off the bar and it’s all level again.

Nocerino sends Hart the wrong way.

Ashley Cole’s penalty is like looking at Gareth Southgate’s penalty from EURO 96 through a mirror.

Diamanti finishes it off; Hart tried a lot of things to distract the takers but didn’t really work.  Maybe he should have waved his tongue a bit more and wiggled his hands behind his ears.

Not that they can complain too much; they were outplayed and a number of players were well short of even ‘anonymous’ level.

We started with Alan Hanson comparing Pirlo and Gerrard.  We end with Hanson saying that England need a player with the technical quality of Pirlo.  That bookends this very nicely indeed.