England’s attempt to end their 55-year wait for a major trophy ended in the familiar agony of defeat on penalties as Italy claimed the Euro 2020 crown at Wembley.
On a night of anticipation, tension and ultimate heartbreak in a feverish atmosphere, England seemed on track for their happiest day since July 30, 1966 when Luke Shaw gave them the perfect start after two minutes.
Italy, unbeaten in 33 appearances before this final, slowly came back into the game and were tied in the 67th minute when Leonardo Bonucci jumped up after England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford turned Marco Verratti’s head on a post.
And after a tense period of extra time that failed to find a winner, it was on penalties and a bitter disappointment for England manager Gareth Southgate and his players, who had entered this final on a wave of expectation and strong emotion.
England missed three of their five penalties, with Marcus Rashford hitting a post and Gianluigi Donnarumma turning down Jadon Sancho before – so cruelly for such a good young player – Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka also saw giant Italian goalkeeper save his shot at goal.
Harry Kane and Harry Maguire were aiming for England while Pickford remained hopeful thanks to saves by Andrea Belotti and Jorginho while Domenico Berardi, Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi scored for Italy.
In tears, 19-year-old Saka, who showed such courage to come forward, was consoled by his England team-mates and manager Southgate, but there was little consolation for them or for the fans expected piled up at Wembley.
After so much hope, England’s long wait continues.
England fails as Italy triumphs
England’s years of suffering are dragging on but it seemed that during the first 30 minutes of this final, the moment that the country had waited more than 20,000 days had finally arrived.
Southgate’s team came out of the blocks and the manager’s only change from replacing Saka with Kieran Trippier paid an instant dividend as he ran to Kane’s perfect pass to find Shaw at the far post and he slammed an emphatic finish. in front of Donnarumma.
England were up and running and cheered on by a large and frenzied crowd, they had this talented and savvy Italian side on their back foot until they suddenly got a foothold in the first half finals.
Italy dominated possession, England lost momentum and it was no surprise when they restored parity and then they looked at the most likely winners as the Southgate side, so full of racing from the start, began to work, especially after losing the exceptional Declan Rice at one stroke.
Southgate surprisingly waited until overtime to introduce Jack Grealish but at this point the game was stuck on track for penalties and that is what turned out.
He introduced Sancho and Rashford in the dying moments, presumably in view of penalties, but unfortunately for Southgate, who is so right at Euro 2020, it was a move that didn’t pay off as both failed. with their spot kicks.
Pickford did great things to save on penalties, but he also cried after England’s fate was sealed.
Italy crossed the finish line and Southgate and its players looked devastated as they received the sympathetic applause from the English fans, who had arrived with such high hopes but left Wembley with their dreams of a major trophy broken once more.
England came close when they reached the World Cup semi-final in Moscow in 2018, but that defeat will be even deeper after progressing smoothly to the final and finally having the chance to win a second trophy in what was actually a tournament house with its climax at Wembley.
They’ve made progress – but England still couldn’t get past the final hurdle.
Player of the match
19BonucciBooked at 55 minutes
3ChielliniBooked at 90 minutes
13EmersonReplaced byFlorenziat 118 ‘minutes
18TensionerBooked at 47 minutesReplaced byCristanteat 54 ‘minutes
8JorginhoBooked at 114 minutes
6VerrattiReplaced byLocatelliat 96 ‘minutes
14ChurchReplaced byBernardeschiat 86 ‘minutes
17MotionlessReplaced byBerardiat 55 ‘minutes
tenBadgeBooked at 84 minutesReplaced byBelottiat 90 ‘minutes