Italy won the Euro 2020 final 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday, with Bukayo Saka missing the decisive kick to deny England after the game at Wembley concluded in a weary 1-1 stalemate through extra time. Italy won the Henri Delaunay trophy for the second time after Saka’s effort was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma at the end of a shoot-out in which England scored the first two penalties but then saw Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also fail.
Jorginho had a chance to win it for Italy, but Jordan Pickford saved his penalty, providing renewed faith to the England fans, which had previously generated a frenetic environment with their team seeming set to romp away with the match.
The match’s tense conclusion looked implausible considering how it started, with Luke Shaw scoring for Gareth Southgate’s England after just one minute and 57 seconds, the fastest goal ever in a European Championship final, surprising a squad that had gone 33 games without losing.
In a stadium with an official attendance of 67,173, Italy was shell-shocked and struggled to recover, but more England fans certainly managed to enter after disgusting scenes when supporters without tickets assaulted the gates.
Security will be questioned, and the game was briefly halted late in the game by a pitch invader, but English fans were clearly keen to see their nation win a major tournament for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.
Italy, on the other hand, controlled the majority of possession after falling behind and deservedly equalised through Leonardo Bonucci midway through the second half.
This was the first time since 1976 that the European Championship final was decided on penalties due to a lack of goals.
It’s more penalty anguish for England, who has previously lost in penalty shootouts to Italy at Euro 2012 and to Germany in the Euro 96 semi-finals when Southgate missed the key kick.
While the Italians’ 55-year search for another major international title continues, their own half-century of misery is finished.
The Azzurri have won four World Cups, while their only other European Championship victory was in 1968.
They had lost two European Championship finals in less than two decades, with the agony of losing to France in Rotterdam in 2000 on a golden goal and then being ripped apart by Spain in Kiev in 2012, losing 4-0.
Between the semi-finals and the final, Roberto Mancini’s players had an extra day off, but they were entirely unprepared for the experience that awaited them in London.
The aggressive atmosphere produced by England’s chanting fans, along with Southgate’s tactical decisions, appeared to take the Italians off guard.
In the single alteration from their semi-final, England welcomed back Kieran Trippier in lieu of Saka, reverting to a five-man defence.
Within two minutes, England had broken forward, with Harry Kane setting up Trippier, who crossed from the right to the far post, where Shaw scored on the half-volley.
Italy, who had not trailed throughout the tournament, was surprised, and the only surprise was England’s failure to emphasise their evident advantage.
Instead, they handed the ball over to Mancini’s team, certain that they could handle anything was thrown at them.
Italian Fight back
Even though Federico Chiesa remained a threat, England were rarely severely threatened in the first half.
In the second half, Mancini went to his bench, substituting woeful striker Ciro Immobile and bringing on Domenico Berardi.
Chiesa probed again as the game progressed, forcing a save from Pickford before Donnarumma turned over a John Stones header from Trippier’s corner.
In the 67th minute, the equaliser was scored. Marco Verratti stooped to meet a corner with a header that Pickford turned onto the post, but Bonucci was on hand to score the rebound and celebrate with the crowds of Italian fans gathered at the Wembley end.
After that, Italy’s star player, Chiesa, was forced to retire due to injury. Lorenzo Insigne did not play in extra time, and Verratti was also taken off.
Meanwhile, England brought on Jack Grealish in the hopes of a touch of magic, but it would all come down to penalties, and more heartbreak for them.