Italy has beaten England on penalties to win the European Championships in a nail-biting final at Wembley, on Sunday, July 11, after the game finished 1-1 following extra time.
Aiming for football to finally ‘come home’ after a 55-year absence since lifting the World Cup in 1966, England was forced to endure more heartache by Italy after suffering spot-kick defeat despite taking an early lead in a game which was short on quality but high on tension.
Luke Shaw’s goal had given England a dream start inside the opening two minutes; but Italy equalized through veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci in the second half.
The scores remained 1-1 after extra time as the contest went to penalties; with England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missing their efforts; with Gianluigi Donnarumma inspired in goal as Italy won the shootout 3-2.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had himself saved efforts from Jorginho and Andrea Belotti; but Rashford struck the post before Donnarumma guessed correctly to thwart Sancho and teenager Saka; to hand Italy a second-ever European title in front of a distraught Wembley.
England had perhaps dared to hope that they had banished their spot-kick hoodoo; after being haunted by penalty defeats so often down the years but it was not to be on a cruel night for the hosts; in an evenly-matched game across 120 minutes.
Italy adds their second EURO triumph to four World Cup titles, their most recent coming in 2006; as they remain one of the world’s preeminent soccer powers.
Meanwhile, the Italian had faced a tougher path to the final.
The Azzurri, coached by former international Roberto Mancini, had to beat favourites Spain and Belgium enroute the much-anticipated final at Wembley.