Euro 2020 final: Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties in final to win their 2nd European Championship title
Italy lifted their second European Championship trophy after they defeated England 3-2 in penalty shoot-out in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium in London. The match had ended 1-1 after extra time. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka missed for the Three Lions as Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two penalties in a row to take his team to the title.
This is the first major international trophy that Italy have won since their 2006 FIFA World Cup win. The Azzurri had last won the continental title back in 1968. Italy had reached the final in Euro 2000 and Euro 2012, as well, but had lost to France, and Spain, respectively.
England were eyeing their first European Championship trophy and their first major international football title since winning the FIFA World Cup at home in 1966.
England full-back Luke Shaw gave England a strong start as he sent a thunderous left-footed volley past Italy goalkeeper Donnarumma into the back of the net to give his side the lead in the 2nd minute. It was the fastest goal ever scored in a Euro final.
Italy failed to get their passing game going in the first 20 minutes. Federico Chiesa had a shot from far but it went wide off the goalpost. Roberto Mancini's team took control of the match after the half-hour mark but the equaliser didn't come in the first half.
The second half saw a dynamic Italy put pressure on the England defence as they dominated possession. The Italian pressure almost paid off when Raheem Sterling took Lorenzo Insigne down just outside the England box. But the following free-kick was struck wide by Insigne, and Italy could not find the equaliser.
A defensive error from England a few minutes later saw Chiesa almost netting it in but goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a superb save to deny the Italian forward. Leonardo Bonucci brought things back to level pegging in the 67th minute as he netted in a goal on the rebound. A corner-kick set up the moment for Italy as Marco Verrati's header was saved by Pickford at a point-blank range. But as he deflected the ball, it landed straight at Bonucci's feet in front of the goal and he made the most of it.
Both teams continued to search for the winner in the remainder of the 2nd half, but despite a few nervy minutes, neither of the two teams could take the lead. The match went to extra time.
The introduction of Jack Grealish saw England create some chances as they finally moved into the Italian half with intent. The first 15 minutes of the extra time saw neither of the two teams getting any clear chances. Both teams went in search of the winner in the second half of extra time but it ended 1-1.
Gareth Southgate took a huge gamble as he brought on Marcus Rashford and Jaden Sancho just for the penalties with the clock running down. It eventually turned out to be a disastrous move as both the substitutes missed their penalties.
It was all level at the start as Berardi and Kane put their spot kicks into the net. Pickford then saved from Belotti and Harry Maguire's vicious right footer put England's noses ahead. But it all started to go pear shaped for the home team thereafter. Bonucci converted coolly for Italy to put things back at 2-2, while Rashford hit the post after a long delayed spot kick.
Bernardeschi converted his penalty and Donnarumma saved Sacho's shot to bring Italy within one goal of victory. But the dependable Jorginho couldn't beat Pickford, who made a great save to keep England in the match. 19-year-old Bukayo Saka took the decisive spot kick and Donnarumma saved again to bring joy for the Italian team and the supporters.
The victory in the final completes a great turnaround in the fortunes of the Italian national team, who had failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Roberto Mancini was put in charge to bring the team back to a world class level and he has delivered a major trophy within three years.
Italy are now unbeaten in 34 straight international matches. The campaign and Italy's long unbeaten record is similar to the national team's performance in the run up to their FIFA World Cup win in 2006.