Simone Zaza’s hilariously bad penalty took the heat off his Italian teammate Graziano Pelle, who appeared to try his best to psych out Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during Saturday’s shootout.
Pelle, who currently plies his trade for Southampton but has been linked with a summer move to Chelsea, looked directly at Neuer before waving his hand in an up and down motion.
The 30-year-old then proceeded to hit a tame penalty hopelessly wide of Neuer’s right-hand post. It was a dismal effort and one that some people felt Pelle deserved for his theatrics prior to taking the kick.
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However, despite all of the evidence pointing to Pelle using a bit of gamesmanship to put off Neuer, the Italian striker is adamant he wasn’t trying to provoke his opponent.
“I want to apologise to the Italian people because I am very disappointed about the outcome,” Pelle was quoted after saying after the match by Spanish newspaper Marca.
“I wasn't trying to provoke [German goalkeeper Manuel] Neuer at all. ''I wasn't trying to be too smart about it either.”
Not sure we believe you, Graziano.
Video: Pelle's penalty v Germany
Pelle gutted after missing penalty
Pelle did, however, admit he was bitterly disappointed after missing his penalty.
“Zaza and I always score [the penalties] at training,” he added. “Unfortunately, we were unable to do so when stakes were high.”
Pelle and Zaza weren’t the only Italian players to miss from the spot. Leonardo Bonucci and Matteo Darmian also failed to convert, as Germany recorded a 6-5 victory after 120 gruelling minutes of action.
Conte: No shame in losing to Germany on penalties
Speaking after the match, Italy boss Antonio Conte insisted there was no shame in being knocked out by Germany on penalties.
"The lads gave everything they had against a very strong side," the 46-year-old, who will join Chelsea this month, was quoted as telling Rai Sport by Goal. "Being beaten by Germany on penalties is no shame, as we could've gone forward too. I am proud of what these players did.
"The world champions changed their system for us and that's a reason to be proud."
He added: "Regrets? Only for the penalties, not for the effort and love they showed for the jersey. These players really proved everything and gave all they had.
"I don't like to make evaluations, I prefer to leave that to others. What interests me is that I had an incredible experience with these players, making Italy respected and feared by everyone.
"We tried and were able to make the fans proud of us. We made the players truly aware that it's a privilege to wear the shirt."
Was Graziano Pelle trying to psych out Manuel Neuer? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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