Despite this handful of chances, it was Italy who dominated the play in the first period and provided the more regular threat of a breakthrough with Juventus' former Milan playmaker Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli testing his club colleagues Joleon Lescott at centre-back and goalkeeper Joe Hart.
It was a similar story in the second half, although Rooney almost snatched victory against the statistics in the second minute of injury time. When Cole's cross was nodded back into the middle by Andy Carroll, on as a substitute for Welbeck, Rooney's overhead kick flew over the bar.
The key incident in the extra half-hour was a close-range 'goal' by Italy substitute Antonio Nocerino rightly being disallowed for offside. Hence the deadlock remained and not for the first time in a major tournament, England's fate would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Balotelli beat Hart and Steven Gerrard converted past Buffon with similar spot-kicks to open the shoot-out. Then Riccardo Montolivo missed for Italy and Rooney confidently put England 2-1 up after two penalties apiece, firing to the left as the keeper dived the wrong way. Pirlo coolly clipped Italy's third spot-kick over Hart and when Young hit the bar, it meant the scores were level at 2-2. Nocerino stuttered but then slotted home to make it 3-2 to Italy. The advantage remained with the Azzurri when Cole's tame effort was easily saved by Buffon and Italy duly capitalised when Diamante scored.