Italy downs England on penalties to win Euro 2020

July 12, 2021

LONDON — Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma emerged the Euro hero as he proved the rock in the Azzurri’s victory over England in Wembley on Sunday. The teams played out on level terms 1-1 for a pulsating 120 minutes of regulation and extra time before settling the issue via the set pieces 3-2.

For just the second time in their history, Italy emerged European Championship winners. And on a night with the both sides giving it all, the Italians left the field jubilant with England suffering yet another heartbreak.

And they paid the penalty for going into a shell after a smashing start to the final. Their second minute strike provided the boost they were seeking in their quest to end their 55-year wait for a title. But a dream night turned into a nightmare with Italy proving a wee bit better on the mark.

There was high drama in the penalty shootout with both teams starting with unerring shots on target. Berardi beat Pickford with a sure shot and Kane whipped it inside the left post to keep the teams level.

Pickford then dived to his left to deny Belotti and when Maguire rifled it into the top-right corner it was advantage England. But then it all unraveled for the home team.

Marcus Rashford substituted late in extra time fore the penalties, missed with a poor shot to the base of the left upright. Then Italy came level when Bonucci calmly curled the ball beyond Pickford.

Then Bernardeschi sent Pickford the wrong way to put Italy in front, and when Donnarumma dived to his left and beat away Sancho's effort it looked like Italy just needed one more tap to seal the win. But the drama continued with Pickford diving low to save Jorginho’s effort.

It all boiled down to Saka to keep England afloat. But his shot from the spot is saved by Donnarumma to give his side victory.

It was a dream start for England in the final as they forged ahead in the second minute of the game through Luke Shaw. A poor pass from Harry Maguire back to Jordan Pickford goes out for an Italy corner, showing some apparent nerves for the Three Lions — but they counter superbly from the set-piece.

It's Kieran Trippier who crossed, for England's opposite wing-back Luke Shaw to volley home past Donnarumma. Shaw's opener was the quickest ever goal scored in the final of the European Championships, as well as his first ever for the England national team.

England took an early lead and defended it stoutly to hold onto their slender lead till the break. Though Italy were growing stronger as the half wound down, it was the clever use of the space in the second half that brought Italy back into the game.

Italy came level at Wembley after pushing and probing for the major share of the half. They equalized during a messy corner. Pickford can't be blamed, as he made a good save onto the post from Verratti, but Bonucci was on hand to turn in the rebound and to make it 1-1.

Both teams had their share of chances, but the rival defense called the shots to hold back the waves of attacks. With half chances not being converted the teams, first fought out two sets of extra time before taking on the penalties.

Italy kept their unbeaten record, winning in their last 34 matches in all competitions. This is their longest unbeaten stretch of matches in the nation’s history. — Agencies

July 12, 2021
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