AFCON

Italy Crowned European Champions After Penalty Shootout Against England

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Italy became European Champions for the first time since 1968 by beating England 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the match finished 1-1 following extra-time at Wembley.

England started with Harry Kane upfront, supported by Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling. The Azzuri started with a front three of Federico Chiesa, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.

In spectacular fashion, Luke Shaw gave England a dream start with a superb goal after two minutes. Harry Kane spread the ball wide to Kieran Trippier and he sent over a curling cross that Shaw met on the half volley to hammer inside the post for his first international goal.

England’s Luke Shaw (3) celebrates goal against Italy during Euro 2020 final at Wembley

The goal sent the England fans at Wembley into a frenzy as a second title to add to the 1966 World Cup was coming to pass. The Italians were stunned and coach Robert Mancini had it all to do to get his side back into the game.

However, England dominated the first half and should have extended the lead. But the Italian defence kept the hosts out as the score remained 1-0 at halftime.

England striker Harry Kane (9) marked by Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini (3)

The Italians started stronger in the second half as they were looking to find the equaliser. Insigne and Chiesa were the constant threats to England’s defence, but goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was up to the task.

In the 67th minute, Italy cranked up the pressure and it paid dividends when Bonucci pounced from close range after the goalkeeper Pickford had turned Andrea Belotti’s header onto the post.

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci (19) celebrates goal against England

England could have no complaints after inviting their opponents on and offering almost nothing in attack. Italy had grown into the game and took command in the second half. However, after chances from both sides the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and on to extra-time.

It was a similar story in extra time as Italy dominated, though England briefly forced their way back into the game. As penalties loomed, England coach Southgate sent on Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashord in the closing minutes to give his side a boost in the shootout as the match ended 1-1 after extra time.

Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England (C) gives team talk before penalty shootout during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium

England briefly sensed glory in the shootout when Pickford saved from Belotti, and both Kane and Maguire put them 2-1 ahead. Federico Bernardeschi, Leonardo Bonucci and Domenico Berardi all scored for the Italians in the shootout, while Sancho and Rashford both missed from the penalty spot, leaving England desperate for a miracle.

Pickford then kept the hosts in the game again when he saved from Jorginho, only for Donnarumma to have the final word when he blocked Saka’s shot.

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (21) blocks penalty from England’s Bukayo Saka

Italy, have now won five and lost six of their 10 major tournament shootouts, including one win and one loss in World Cup finals, while England’s dismal record now reads seven losses from nine.

Italy are now unbeaten in 34 matches, underlining the stunning turnaround fashioned by coach Roberto Mancini who took over after the country’s humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Italy celebrates penalty shootout victory against England at Wembley

“It was impossible even to think about this, but the guys were extraordinary,” Mancini said. “I don’t have words for them, this is a magnificent group. We were great, we conceded an early goal and had some problems but then we dominated.”

The match statistics told the story as Italy had 66% possession and 19 shots to England’s six and, until the shootout, Donnarumma barely touched the ball.

“The penalty takers are my call,” said Southgate. “We know they were the best takers we had left on the pitch, and we tried to get those players on to the pitch.”

“The players have given everything, not only tonight but throughout the whole tournament. They should hold their heads high but the devastation of getting so close is difficult to put into context.”

“At the moment the pain of the defeat is huge, we wanted to give our nation one more special night and a first European championship and we haven’t quite been able to do it,” Southgate added.

 

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters/UEFA.

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