England suffered more penalty heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final.
England 1-1 Italy (2-3)
The Three Lions came within a nose hair of ending 55 years of hurt at Wembley Stadium, even making history by scoring the fastest goal in the history of European Championship finals games.
However, Luke Shaw’s sizzling volley cut an eerily similar memory to Kieran Trippier’s opening goal in the 2018 World Cup semi-final with their opponents, Italy, drawing level after the break.
Despite Jordan Pickford’s heroics, Leonardo Bonucci managed to smuggle the ball into the net and ensure that the clash to become European champions went all the way to a penalty shootout.
England lose on penalties
Andrea Belotti and Jorginho both came up short for the Italians, but a trio of spot-kick misses from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka put the trophy in the hands of Gli Azzurri.
And one particular detail has stood out for many people when it comes to England‘s penalty defeat and that’s the age of the players who were tasked with taking spot-kicks and ultimately missed.
Rashford and Sancho are only 23 and 21 years old respectively, but it’s Saka – who missed the penalty that ended the affair – that clocks in as the youngest at just 19 years old.
Kane savages Grealish and Sterling
It’s an interesting fact that Manchester United icon and ITV Sport pundit Roy Keane had a massive problem with, openly declaring on Sunday that more experienced players should have stepped up.
In typically ruthless and uncompromising fashion, Keane fumed that Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling should have taken responsibility and volunteered for penalties ahead of the young Saka.
Keane ranted: “If you’re (Raheem) Sterling or (Jack) Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can’t. You can’t, I don’t care what anybody says.
“You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you. They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up.
“I’m not saying he wasn’t prepared, maybe Gareth had him sixth or seventh. You can’t sit there, that must be hard to take. You pull this young kid and say ‘listen, I’ll step up for you’.”
A harsh assessment from Keane
Keane certainly didn’t mince his words, that’s for sure; openly opining that players like Sterling and Grealish should have prevented a scenario in which Saka had all the pressure on his shoulders.
Gareth Southgate has since revealed that he chose the penalty takers himself but regardless of the decision process, you’ve got applaud the guts of Saka to step up and take such a crucial spot-kick.
At the end of the day, penalty shootouts are a lottery and even the greatest players of all time miss from 12 yards, so it’s important that fans cool their criticism of Saka on the back of the Italy defeat.
It doesn’t matter whether Keane is correct or not in his assessment, but what does matter is that we all put an arm around the shoulder of Saka and his inspirational bravery for someone so young.
You’re a credit to yourself, Bukayo and we know that you’ll bounce back stronger.