Italy won the European Championship for the first time since 1968 on Sunday (July 11) at Wembley, with Gianluigi Donnarumma saving two penalties as the Azzurri won a shootout 3-2 after the game ended 1-1 after extra time. After Marcus Rashford struck the post, the big goalie saved Jadon Sancho and, more importantly, Bukayo Saka, as Federico Bernardeschi, Leonardo Bonucci, and Domenico Berardi all scored for the Italians in the shootout.
England had gotten off to a dream start when Luke Shaw scored after just two minutes, but Italy, who had provided almost little reaction in the first half, gradually seized control and rightfully levelled through Bonucci after 67 minutes. It was the first penalty shootout final since Czechoslovakia defeated West Germany in 1976, and Italy was ecstatic after losing the finals in 2000 and 2012.
It was another shootout horror show for England coach Gareth Southgate, who missed from the spot in the Euro 96 semi-final loss to Germany. The two players he brought on late in extra time with penalties in mind, as well as 19-year-old Saka, who crumpled under the pressure of taking the game-winning kick, all missed their penalties.
Italy has now won five and lost six of their ten major event shootouts, including one win and one loss in the World Cup final, while England has now lost seven of their nine shootouts. However, England fans hoping to add to their 1966 World Cup victory can scarcely complain that they were robbed this time, as their team surrendered the initiative after a good start, despite the support of the majority of the 67,000-strong crowd.
The match statistics revealed the storey: Italy had 66 percent possession and 19 shots to England’s six, while Donnarumma scarcely touched the ball until the shootout. Italy has now gone 34 games without losing, highlighting coach Roberto Mancini’s remarkable turnaround after the country’s dismal failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“It seemed unthinkable to even consider it,” Mancini added, “but the men were extraordinary.” “I don’t know what to say about them; they’re a fantastic group. We were fantastic; we let up an early goal and had some issues, but after that, we dominated.”
When Harry Kane moved the ball wide to Kieran Trippier, who immediately returned England coach Gareth Southgate’s faith in him by sending over a curling deep cross that Shaw received on the half-volley to hammer inside the post for his maiden international goal. England had grabbed an early lead against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final before being outplayed and losing in extra time, but they were on top for a long, with the Italians bickering and going to Mancini for orders as they battled to find a foothold.
England’s well-drilled defence, who had only conceded one goal in their six previous tournament games (by a Denmark free kick), appeared to be safe enough, but the players in front of them progressively began to concede more and more territory.
As Italy piled on the pressure, Jordan Pickford had to make saves from Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa, and it paid off when Bonucci pounced from close range after the keeper had put Andrea Belotti’s header onto the post.
After inviting their opponents on and delivering absolutely little in attack, England could have no complaints. In extra time, it was a similar tale, albeit England did temporarily claw their way back into the game, albeit without much to show for their raucous applause.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021
When Pickford saved a penalty kick from Belotti, Kane and Harry Maguire gave England a 2-1 lead in the shootout. The goalkeeper saved from Jorginho to keep the hosts in the game, but Donnarumma had the final say when he blocked Saka’s badly placed attempt.
“I choose the penalty takers,” Southgate added. “We knew they were the greatest takers we had left on the field, so we worked hard to get them on the field. Not only now, but throughout the tournament, the players have given their all. They should be proud of themselves… but the devastation of coming so close is difficult to comprehend.
“The agony of the defeat is immense at the moment; we wanted to give our country one more special night and a first European title, but we haven’t been able to do so.”ppl