Four Liverpool players were in action as England crashed out of Euro 2012 after losing a penalty shoot-out against Italy in the quarter-finals.
Glen Johnson and skipper Steven Gerrard started the game at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, while Andy Carroll was introduced just after the hour mark and Jordan Henderson took to the field in the second minute of extra-time.
Daniele De Rossi set the tone for a frantic opening quarter of an hour on the night when he left Joe Hart's post reverberating after firing a volley goal-ward on three minutes.
A minute later Glen Johnson managed to find space deep inside the Italian penalty area and attempted to poke the ball past Gianluigi Buffon from close range but the veteran stopper pulled off a superb, reflex stop with an outstretched left palm.
Johnson seemed to be at the heart of every England move throughout the first half. On 13 minutes he aimed a perfectly-weighted pass into the six-yard box for Wayne Rooney to race onto. However, the Manchester United striker could not keep his header down.
The second half belonged to the Italians, who peppered Hart's goal with chance after chance. The pick of the bunch came when De Rossi fired wide of the post from yards out. Carroll took to the field as a 61st minute substitute in place of Danny Welbeck.
Johnson kept England in the game on 87 minutes when Antonio Nocerino got round the back of the England back four and shaped to shoot but Johnson was there.
Two minutes into extra-time, Henderson was introduced in place of Scott Parker.
Carroll fulfilled his defensive duties to perfection making two crucial headed clearances after the re-start in extra-time. Then with five minutes remaining Italy's Federico Balzaretti latched onto a cross and headed into the back of the net; however, he was rightly deemed offside and the goal was ruled out.
Then came the penalties.
Balotelli rolled the first past Hart with precision. Up stepped the skipper Gerrard to fire his penalty low past Buffon and equalise. Riccardo Montolivo shot wide of the post before Wayne Rooney sent the 'keeper the wrong way to give the Three Lions the advantage.
Andrea Pirlo levelled for Italy with the most audacious of chips. Ashley Young hammered his penalty against the crossbar. Nocerino sent Hart the wrong way. Then Ashley Cole's effort was saved by Buffon and Alessandro Diamanti fired the winner.
After the match Gerrard reflected "We leave with our heads held high but it doesn't help with the heartbreak.
"I thought this time in the penalty shoot-out we might have had that bit of luck. In a penalty shoot-out, when you get your nose in front, you're praying you see it out. Credit to Italy they're a fantastic team and they got a bit of luck in the shoot-out."