Italy wins Euro 2020, England’s penalty nightmares continue

Euro 2020 – Final – Italy v England
Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma celebrates winning Euro 2020 with teammates.
REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

It’s coming home — to Rome.

Italy and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma added to England’s agonizing history of penalty-shootout nightmares on soccers’ biggest stage — with Gli Azzurri defeating the Three Lions on their home turf at Wembley Stadium in London in 1-1 (3-2 on penalties) to win Euro 2020.

The year-long delay was certainly worth the wait in terms of dramatics, as Donnarumma saved Italy’s skins after Andrea Belotti’s attempt was saved by Jordan Pickford to put England up 2-1 in the penalties.

But after Leonardo Bonucci — who scored in the 67th minute to force extra time — scored to draw Italy momentarily level, Marcus Rashford hit the post to disintegrate England’s advantage.

Federico Bernardeschi put Italy in front, where they remained after Jadon Sancho’s attempt to the bottom right was parried away by Donnarumma.

Italian celebrations were delayed when Jorginho’s potential game-winner was saved by Pickford onto the post, but Donnarumma came up big one more time to deliver silverware to manager Roberto Mancini as he saved 19-year-old’s Bukayo Saka’s attempt.

It’s the second time Italy has won the tournament — its first since 1968 — while England’s major tournament drought continues having not lifted a trophy since the 1966 World Cup Final.

The disappointing night for England didn’t start anywhere near such a status, as the hosts didn’t wait long in their return to a major final to blow the roof off Wembley.

In just the second minute on the counter off an Italian counter, Luke Shaw volleyed home a cross from Kieran Trippier from the left side of the box — grazing off the post and in.

It was the fastest goal in the history of the final at the European Championships, which dates back to 1960. It was also the first time in 18 games that the Italians have trailed.

Italy responded by bossing a majority of possession, but the tactics put forth by England manager Gareth Southgate stymied much of the free-flowing style of play that this year’s Italian side so surprisingly exhibited throughout the Euros.

A few chances went beckoning, including a first-half effort by Federico Chiesa that fizzed just wide of Pickford’s post before Lorenzo Insigne fired wide on a free-kick in the second half.

Insigne did force a Pickford save in the 56th minute when he weaved down to the goal line and tried to muscle a tough-angled shot through. But the English goalkeeper beat it away.

Pickford came up with a strong diving save in the 62nd minute from a turning effort from Chiesa from the top of the England box.

Italy finally found its equalizer in the 67th minute in the ensuing scramble off a corner kick. A deflected header bounced to Marco Verratti, who got his head on the end of it and drove it toward Pickford.

The ball glanced off the goalkeeper’s hand and the post, but bounced right to Bonucci, who cleaned up the chance sitting tantalizingly on the goal line.

With England suddenly on its back heels, Italy continued to push and nearly got another in the 72nd minute when a ball over the top fell over the shoulder of Domenico Berardi on the run. But he couldn’t keep the difficult volley effort down with an onrushing Pickford adding even more pressure.

Tentative play that extended to extra time nearly sprang to life in the 103rd minute when a cross from Emerson nearly found the foot of Andrea Belotti at the doorstep, but it was redirected away by Pickford.

The England keeper was called into action in the 107th minute when he fought off a long-range free-kick effort from Federico Bernardeschi that swerved right at him.

A moment later, Donnarumma had to make a lunging save on a cross inside the Italy box that nearly fell to the head of the dangerous Harry Maguire. But the keeper’s forearm just redirected the ball enough to travel toward Italian safety.

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