England are out of Euro 2012 after losing 4-2 to Italy in a penalty shoot-out in Kiev, where Sunday's quarter-final ended 0-0 after extra-time.
After Mario Balotelli's talk of Peter Pan, the semi-finals of a major tournament are becoming the equivalent of Never Never Land for the Three Lions.
Six times now they have lost in such fashion, the last four at this stage of the competition.
On Sunday night it was the turn of Ashley Young and Ashley Cole to join the unhappy list of those whose nerve failed them when it mattered.
Both men needed consoling as Italy began their celebrations as, outplayed for long periods of an absorbing game, all England's defensive effort proved in vain.
It means Italy march onto Thursday's semi-final with Germany in Warsaw and leaves Roy Hodgson to pick the bones from an otherwise impressive tournament in time for next autumn's World Cup qualifiers.
Before the drama, all those pre-match predictions of a tight, cagey affair had been blown to bits inside the opening five minutes.
Claudio Marchisio picked out Daniele de Rossi with a peach of a cut-back.
From 25 yards, De Rossi let fly with a spectacular first-time volley, which curved away from Joe Hart's despairing dive, only to crash back off the upright.
Starved of possession in those early stages, England eventually countered through Glen Johnson.
The Liverpool defender continued his run after laying a pass off to Ashley Young and was picked out inside the box by James Milner.
Had the chance fallen to a striker, England surely would have scored.
As it was, Johnson took vital seconds manoeuvring the ball into a position from which he could shoot, and when he did, Gianluigi Buffon stood firm to make an excellent one-handed save.
They were the most notable efforts of a surprisingly open start, during which Wayne Rooney sent a diving header over and Andrea Pirlo released Mario Balotelli, only for John Terry to rescue the situation with a vital tackle.
No-one could help when Riccardo Montolivo's disguised pass looped over the England defence and dropped invitingly for Balotelli, whose volley went straight to Hart.
At the other end, Danny Welbeck's precise effort sailed over after he had run onto Rooney's return pass.
It was spellbinding stuff, with Italy having the edge in craft and guile, whilst also looking vulnerable when England attacked at pace.
Balotelli's notoriously fragile temperament resulted in him lashing out at a post after spurning another opportunity, which Pirlo and Antonio Cassano combined to provide.
He ended the half driving over from long-range, extending a contribution substantially more effective than Rooney, whose failure to pick out a team-mate with a cross under no pressure was symptomatic of a player struggling to find his form.
England were caught cold straight after the interval when Marchisio found De Rossi in the box, only for the midfielder to mis-kick a volley wide from barely four yards when he had the time to do much better.
It was the start of an onslaught that had England teetering on the brink as Pirlo took command in imperious fashion.
At 33, the midfielder now assumes the Paul Scholes-role for his country, dropping deep and dictating the tempo, and for a while, England were powerless to stop him.
Terry denied Balotelli at the far-post with a thunderous clearing header, then Hart repelled De Rossi's long-range effort and also Balotelli's follow-up.
Montolivo got to the loose ball first but his shot sailed over.
Hodgson had seen enough and after Balotelli's overhead kick had gone over, Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott were introduced.
With Italy making changes as well, the game lost its shape, so, as had been imagined, extra-time was required.
After their defiant rearguard action, it would have been galling in the extreme for England's defences to be breached by a fluke.
Fortunately, what was intended as a cross by former West Ham man Alessandro Diamanti clipped the far post after Hart reacted too late to the danger it was posing.
Antonio Nocerino thought he had won it six minutes from the end but his header was correctly ruled out for offside.
It merely delayed the inevitable.
That England led after the first two rounds of penalties to give hope, only made defeat all the more crushing as Diamanti delivered the final blow, stroking a left-footed spot-kick past Hart with consummate ease.
what do you think?
Can't we ever get this right???
how many strikes on goal/how many corners how many goal mouth incidents/how many parts of the game what intressed me come home england and chill out
If I'd been Ashley Young I would have been pleading with the Manager TO TAKE ME OFF PLEASE, trouble is he's listening to Gary Neville say no more and that's coming from me being a United supporter. No quality NO CHANCE!!
NO THRILLS THIS TEAM.
Quarter final curse strikes again!
Well at least the two Ashleys have a long career in Pizza Advertising ahead. If England had gone through tho, it would have been the steal of the century as Italy played rings around them and should have walked it in the end, The 2nd half of extra time was like a training session for them.
I am sorry to say that we got exactly what we deserved. I feel sorry for Hart, Cole, Terry, Lescott and Johnson as they all did their jobs defended but our midfield and sad excuse for attack were a disgrace, after the first 45mins they never looked like creating anything and gave the ball away so many times with half hearted efforts and as far as Rooney goes why oh why wont our management team ever bring him off he was shocking, I am not a Rooney lover but come on he was worse than shocking. On the whole I thought we did quite well in the competition up until that last 45mins plus the extra time but we must stop this game plan of playing for a draw and attack every game to win as we always crumble at the important stage. Lets see some new speedy young blood in there in the future please and stop letting the pundits pick the team.
Some good football to look forward to now that England are out. I could not believe how bad they were. Again, Milner and Young did nothing but respectively get substituted and miss a penalty. As Bill Shankly would have said: "0-0, and they were lucky to get nil."
England were garbage - but then when were England not rubbish - the last time they played well was Germany 1 England 5 and the time before it was aginst Holland in Euro 96. And it was only the Holland game that we palyed well in that year. England have not got ONE world class player now.Rooney, I hear you say - do me a favour! The only world class players we've had in the last 30 years were Gascoigne and possibly Linneker. FACT!!!
England looked very tired from the word go and although they had a good spell in first half they quickly lost there way then from then in it was the usual thing for England one step forward five steps backwards with the odd long lost long ball need to go back to grass routes and learn basic football..... only one good thing came out of euro's and that was they learnt a bit of disapline on the pitch... soon be the world cup.............