In the past England have understandably felt a sense of injustice, a belief that an exit on penalties was scant reward for their efforts. Here in Kiev, they got exactly what they deserved.
The statistics alone suggest England were thrashed 0-0 by vastly superior Italy and, unlike some statistics in football, they do not paint an illusion. Italy had 68 per cent possession, 31 shots against England’s eight and eighteen on target to England’s four. The pass count was 833 to 364.
So as England’s players returned to their Krakow hotel in the early hours of Monday morning, they can take satisfaction from their efforts in Poland and Ukraine but cannot have a single complaint about the manner of their departure.
In Kiev, however, they found that the tactical discipline, togetherness and resilience injected by Hodgson in his brief spell in charge could only take them so far. England were tortured by the superior technique shown by Italy and Andrea Pirlo in particular.
The result was that England, barring a 20-minute first half spell in which they played their best football of the tournament, were pulled to pieces and only survived until penalties via a combination of good fortune, brave defending and poor Italian finishing.
What cannot be denied, or indeed ignored, was the chasm in class between the sides. England had no-one to match Pirlo’s ability to dictate, to treat the ball as his closest friend.
England have been guilty of squandering possession in recent times but this was different. They did not have possession as they were manoeuvred about by Pirlo to such an extent that it became embarrassing to watch at times.
This match was a brutal illustration of where England are. They can come home proud of their efforts but also knowing they were eliminated by a vastly better side.
Will the lesson in football dished out to England by the Italians finally bring about change in the English game as it appears we fall vastly short of the level required to win major tournaments?
What do you think about Englands performance and the general state of the game in this country? let us know.