Italy have just defeated England to win Euro 2020 on penalties.
Euro 2020 final
The Three Lions were hoping to make history during their first appearance in the major final of an international tournament since the halcyon days of the 1966 World Cup.
And things couldn’t have started better for the hosts as they took the lead against Italy with the fastest goal in the history of European Championship finals matches.
England strung together a glorious passage of play that saw Harry Kane slip the ball to Kieran Trippier out wide with the Atletico Madrid defender duly delivering a stunning cross into the box.
Italy vs England match reaction (Football Terrace)
Shaw opens the scoring
Waiting at the back post was none other than Luke Shaw who – true to his superb 2020/21 season at Manchester United – provided the killer touch by volleying past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Not only was it Shaw’s first goal for his country, but just the fourth strike of his professional career, so it couldn’t have been clearer quite what it meant to produce the goods on the biggest stage of all.
It was a goal that was typical of England’s lightning start to the game, albeit one that might have brought back nervous memories of Trippier striking early in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
England and Italy exchange blows
And alas, Roberto Mancini’s men eventually worked their way back into game and actually finished the first-half as the stronger team with Federico Chiesa sending a fizzing shot wide of the post.
However, England managed to reach the half-time interval with their one-goal lead in tact and tried to emerge for the second 45 minutes with the same urgency that they commenced the first.
Raheem Sterling looked to continue his almost-perfect tournament with a threatening run into the box, but his subsequent penalty appeals were emphatically waved away by Björn Kuipers.
Elsewhere, Chiesa was once again proving himself as Italy’s biggest threat, warming the gloves of Pickford with some fleeted footwork in the penalty area followed up a threatening right-footed shot.
Bonucci levels the scores
And minute by minute, the pressure began to build upon England shoulders with Mancini’s troops finally forcing themselves back into the game with less than half an hour still to play.
The equaliser came from an Italy corner with Pickford proving desperately unlucky to concede mere seconds after making one of the saves of the tournament to deny Marco Verratti from close range.
But just as the Everton shot-stopper miraculously tipped Verratti’s header on to the post, Bonucci was on ceremony to fire home from inches out as Kane desperately tried to protect the goal.
The final heads to penalties
It was a crushing moment that inevitably jangled nerves amongst the English contingent, but give or take a few heart-in-mouth chances, the game trundled on to an addition 30 minutes in London.
The tension around Wembley Stadium was palpable as the very possibility of either a dramatic late winner or a penalty shootout approached with Italy gradually emerging as the stronger side.
However, Pickford appeared to have all the answers for the Italian pressure, making a fine close-range save before the break and keeping Federico Bernardeschi out from a 30-yard free-kick.
Euro 2020 penalty shootout
As such, the Euro 2020 final progressed all the way to the nerve-shredding medium of a penalty shootout, so often the bane of English football history, which played out as follows:
1. Goal: Italy 1-0 England – Domenico Berardi
2. Goal: Italy 1-1 England – Harry Kane
3. Miss: Italy 1-1 England – Andrea Belotti
4. Goal: Italy 1-2 England – Harry Maguire
5. Goal: Italy 2-2 England – Leonardo Bonucci
6. Miss: Italy 2-2 England – Marcus Rashford
7. Goal: Italy 3-2 England – Federico Bernardeschi
8. Miss: Italy 3-2 England – Jadon Sancho
9. Miss: Italy 3-2 England – Jorginho
10. Miss: Italy 3-2 England – Bukayo Saka
England have done themselves proud
Misses from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka meant that the Three Lions fell at the final hurdle with Italy ascending the throne of European champions under the Wembley arch.
It looked as though England had the momentum required to claim the victory after Pickford denied Jorginho’s chance to win, but there was heartbreak for Saka as Donnarumma beat his effort away.
But after everything that England have been through over the last 55 years, the Three Lions should hold their heads high safe in the knowledge that they inspired a nation with their performances.
Football didn’t come home, but our lives were all the richer for seeing it out the front window.