Yesterday at the Wembley stadium Italy claimed their first European Championship since 1968 after the 22-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two penalties in a 3-2 penalty shoot-out with England.
After a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes, Donnarumma stopped Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka — Marcus Rashford also missed his spot-kick by hitting the post — to give Roberto Mancini’s side victory in London.
Jordan Pickford saved penalties from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho, but Donnarumma’s save from Saka settled the game and handed Italy the trophy.
“I have no words for the boys; this is a great squad. There were no easy games, and this one got very difficult, but we dominated,” Italy manager Mancini stated.
“With penalties, you need a little luck, and I feel bad for England. This squad has come a long way, but I believe there is still room for improvement. We are overjoyed for everyone.”
After one minute and 57 seconds, England had seized the lead. Luke Shaw, on the eve of his 26th birthday, scored the quickest-ever European Championship final goal.
However, Italy, who had gone 33 games without losing before this final, forced extra time when Leonardo Bonucci equalized 67 minutes.
Italy increased in strength after being outplayed early in the game, with coach Roberto Mancini making more replacements than his England opponent Gareth Southgate, who had sprung a tactical surprise before the game.
Southgate made one change to his starting lineup from the semifinal victory over Denmark, opting for Atletico Madrid full-back Kieran Trippier over Arsenal’s Emiliano Saka, allowing his team to play with a three-man defense.
Shaw and Trippier were able to play as forwarding wing-backs as a result of the tactical change, and the strategy paid off within the first two minutes when Shaw scored his first international goal.
The Manchester United defender began the play by passing to Harry Kane in his own half before racing towards the Italy penalty area. Meanwhile, Kane sent the ball to Trippier on the right-wing, who held off on crossing long enough for Shaw to arrive at the far post and score with a half-volley past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
England continued their strong start, with Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in charge of the midfield for Southgate’s side, but Italy gained a foothold in the game in the second half.
Following a mazy move and shot by Juventus striker Lorenzo Insigne, England keeper Pickford was forced to dive low to his left to deny Chiesa after a mazy run and shot.
After England failed to clear a corner, Italy’s dominance was rewarded as Bonucci scrambled home from close range. After Pickford had pushed Marco Verratti’s header against the post, Bonucci scored from the rebound.
Southgate sought to stop the flow by substituting Saka and Jordan Henderson for Trippier and Rice, but Italy continued to dictate play and were in command for the duration of the 90 minutes and the first session of extra-time.
Apart from a 30-yard Federico Bernardeschi free kick on 117 minutes, which Pickford fumbled, the game’s obvious chances were scarce as extra time and penalties approached.
Kane was heartbroken after coming so close but falling short in front of his home crowd.
“We got off to a great start, but we may have dug a little too deep. It’s easy to try to soak up the pressure and hang on to a lead when you score early, and that’s probably what occurred “Kane said.
After winning the 1966 World Cup, England was playing in their first major final in 55 years. After losses in major tournament shootouts in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006, and 2012, this was their latest setback.
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