Heartbreak for England as Italy win Euro 2020 final on penalties

11 July 2021, 23:04 | Updated: 11 July 2021, 23:33

England lost to Italy after a penalty shoot-out
England lost to Italy after a penalty shoot-out. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The championship hopes of the England team and millions of fans watching across the country have been dashed after the side lost to Italy in a penalty shoot-out at Wembley.

England had a dream start with an early goal by Luke Shaw at close to the two-minute mark - the fastest ever scored at a European Championship final.

But Italy struck back in the 67th minute with a goal by Leonardo Bonucci, after increased pressure on England following the half-time break.

The game was level at 1-1 after 90 minutes and there were no goals in extra time. Italy went on to win the shoot-out, bringing heartbreak to the young England squad and millions of fans who had hoped football might be coming home.

The England team posted on Twitter: "This has been some journey.

"As a nation we were united in a belief that we can achieve something special after the hardest of years.

"It wasn't meant to be, but this team is just getting started. They will continue to make you proud both on and off the pitch."

After the game manager Gareth Southgate said: "They've given everything they possibly could. They've gone further than we've gone for so long but of course tonight, it's incredibly painful."

Bukayo Saka stands dejected after missing from the penalty spot
Bukayo Saka stands dejected after missing from the penalty spot. Picture: PA

In the shoot-out, Berardi took the first kick for Italy and sent Pickford the wrong way with his left-footed effort. Harry Kane levelled with a fierce effort to Gianluigi Donnarumma's right.

Pickford put England into the ascendency with a low save from Andrea Belotti's second kick for Italy. Harry Maguire put the Three Lions 2-1 up with a perfect kick that rippled the roof of the net.

Italy celebrate after sealing the win on penalties
Italy celebrate after sealing the win on penalties. Picture: insidefoto srl/Alamy Live News

Bonucci made it 2-2 as he found the back of the net, just beating Pickford after a stuttered run up.

Then Marcus Rashford, with virtually his first kick of the match, hit the outside of the post after a stuttered run-up to leave it 2-2 after three kicks each.

Federico Bernardeschi put Italy 3-2 up as he went down the middle.

Italy were on the brink when Jadon Sancho, another player brought on for the shoot-out, saw his effort saved by Donnarumma.

Jorginho had the chance to win it for Italy but Pickford got down to turn his spot-kick on to the post.

However, Saka could not take advantage and his fifth kick for England was saved again by Donnarumma.

Cheers and screams at England's goal, the first goal of the final, could be heard echoing through Oxford Circus as the exciting atmosphere built up in central London.

People were watching the game on their phones in the street, and chants of the Three Lions anthem could be heard up and down Oxford Street.

But England's cheers were silenced when Italy equalised in the second half.

England survived a scare in the seventh minute as Lorenzo Insigne sent a curling free-kick from 25 yards over the crossbar.

England continued to dominate at the 20-minute mark as they found space down both flanks. However, they lacked the quality in the final pass to allow them to create chances for further goals.

Italy suffered an injury problem midway through the first half as influential midfielder Jorginho went down. He went off for treatment and was able to return to the pitch, but looked troubled.

Roberto Mancini's side began to dominate possession. But England were defending compactly and managed to snuff out any danger as the game headed towards half-time.

Italy's best chance came in the 35th minute as the dangerous Federico Chiesa wriggled free down the right and advanced on goal, but he drifted his shot just wide of Jordan Pickford's left post.

England's goal came under threat in first-half stoppage time as Italy fired two shots on goal in quick succession. First Ciro Immobile had an effort well blocked by John Stones and then Marco Verratti's shot was easy for Pickford to save.

England had a shout for a penalty three minutes after the restart as Raheem Sterling went down after trying to go past Bonucci but referee Bjorn Kuipers waved away protests.

Moments later Italy had a great chance at the other end as they won a free-kick in an inviting position, 20 yards out in a central position. However Insigne was well wide with his effort and England breathed again.

Italy went on to equalise in the 67th minute and normal time ended at 1-1.

England started extra-time with renewed energy but were unable to break Italy down. Jack Grealish was brought on by Southgate in the ninth minute of extra-time, with Mason Mount making way.

The two sides could not be separated in extra-time, with the title decided by spot kicks.

In a tweet the Duke of Cambridge congratulated the Italian football team on their win.

He said: "Heartbreaking. Congratulations @azzurri on a great victory.

"England, you've all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn't our day. You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves - I know there's more to come. W."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on Twitter: "Well, what a #EURO2020 you gave us England.

"You made history this tournament. Few have seen an England performance - or team - like the one you gave us this summer.

"You've inspired millions across the country, and London is so proud of you."