Football was what it took Italy to beat England and end a 53 years wait for a European Championship title on Sunday in Wembley after an extra time and penalty game.
Winner of the Euro 2020
Both sides were looking at going into the history books when they qualified for the final and it was England who took the initiative early on as Luke Shaw capitalized on poor defending to send the home fans into frenzy.
The Italian player Leonardo Bonucci brought Italy level in the 67th minute leaving both teams hunting for a winning goal as the game went all the way into extra time and penalties.
England players Marcos Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka failed to convert from the spot consecutively. The victory was Italy’s second from penalties this tournament having conquered Spain via the same route. It was also the first time any team has won more than one penalty shoot-out at a European Championship.
For England coach, Gareth Southgate, it was deja vu, as his penalty miss against Germany when England hosted in 1996 stopped the three lions from progressing to the final.
Italy will now represent Europe at the FIFA Confederations Cup – a dress rehearsal for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
It was a nail-biting and edge-of-the-seat 120 minutes of play and nine of extra time, plus the pain of penalty shootout before Italy denied England a much-awaited end to half a century silverware drought.
As penalties began, Harry Kane went first for England. The Italian keeper went the right way. But the power and speed left him with no chance.
Then Pickford saved the Italians’ second kick. Maguire scored and Marcus Rashford hit the upright, while the keeper saved Sancho’s.
For Gareth Southgate, it was déjà vu. Not only was Southgate’s penalty saved in Euro 1996, that semi-final penalty shootout was against Germany, knocked out by England on their ride to Euro 2020 final.
It is the first time England have played in the final of a European Championship and also England’s first tournament final since the 1966 World Cup.