England football fans have flooded social media in disgust after the side's heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
Italy wrecked England's Euro 2020 party at Wembley, winning the final on penalties to plunge the host nation into despair and prolong their 55-year wait to win a major title.
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Roberto Mancini's men recovered from the shock of conceding the quickest goal ever in a European Championship final when Luke Shaw netted inside two minutes.
Veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci equalised in the second half as the Italians held their nerve to claim a 3-2 shootout victory.
However, England supporters were furious with manager Gareth Southgate's decision to hand the decisive penalty to 19-year-old midfielder Bukayo Saka, whose spot-kick was saved by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Southgate also brought on substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho late in extra time specifically for penalties, but they were also unsuccessful with their spot-kicks.
However, it was the decision to entrust Saka with one of the biggest penalties in England football history that left fans incensed, with many questioning why one of the more experienced players didn't step up for the decisive spot-kick.
Some irate supporters even went as far as saying that Southgate should lose his job as a result of the decision.
Bro it’s a disgrace- letting a 19 year old take the most pressured penalty in this country’s history
— Raiyaan Khawaja (@raiyaan_k1) July 11, 2021
I’m sorry I can’t get over this a 19 year old on the biggest penalty in England’s history that can’t run the man that allowed this to happen needs to be fired
— IBZ (@cfcibz) July 11, 2021
Devastated for @england but congratulations to Italy - the better side overall.
Got to wonder why a 19-year-old had the responsibility of taking the biggest penalty in England’s history.
Where were the experienced players like Stones, Shaw, Sterling ?
— Druid (@druid_1987) July 11, 2021
Feel bad for them❤️ I don’t know why Southgate let 3 youngsters take penalty in the biggest game in englands history…
— Alfonso♨️ (@Primealfonsoo) July 11, 2021
@BukayoSaka87 You showed the courage to step up to take the biggest penalty in your country's history at the age of 19, while some of the senior players in the team didn't have the balls to take the penalty. We all are proud of you Bukayo and you know it. A big hug to you 🤗❤️
— Akshay Surve (@Gooner_AS) July 11, 2021
The fact that Gareth Southgate had a 19 year old who had never taken a penalty in his entire career take the biggest penalty in the biggest game in England’s history is the definition of a fireable offense. We love you, head up @BukayoSaka87 ❤️❤️
— Taylor Davis (@tay13gup) July 11, 2021
It is the second time Italy have been crowned European champions and comes after the embarrassment of failing even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Both teams took the knee before the whistle in a display of solidarity against racial injustice before England raced out of the blocks.
Southgate's team were ahead in just the second minute when defender Shaw finished cooly at the back post after an inviting cross from the recalled Kieran Trippier.
It was the fastest goal ever in a European Championship final and stunned a disbelieving crowd of more than 67,000, mostly decked out in red and white.
In steady rain, the crowd provided a relentless wall of noise as the home side repelled Italy's attacks and threatened to increase their lead.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a fine one-handed save from Federico Chiesa's effort to preserve his side's advantage with about half an hour to go.
But minutes later they were level when Leonardo Bonucci scrambled the ball into the net from close range after England's defence failed to clear.
Italy were now dictating play and their supporters found their full voice behind the goal they were attacking.
With four minutes remaining of normal time a pitch invader stopped the action and stewards struggled to catch him adding to a sense of chaos at the stadium after ticketless fans earlier forced their way in.
Italy claim historic penalty shootout triumph
Normal time finished goalless despite a flurry of substitutions and the sides were still locked at 1-1 after extra time.
Pickford saved spot-kicks from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho but Rashford, Sancho and Saka all failed to find the net as Italy became the first side to ever win two penalty shootouts at a European championship - having progressed past Spain in the same manner.
The atmosphere around the stadium was frenzied in the build-up to the match, with supporters draped in England colours downing pints of beer and chanting anthems.
But as the start neared, the climate became tense, with thousands crammed into the pedestrianised Wembley Way, strewn with broken glass.
Fans - with few signs of mask-wearing despite surging coronavirus infections in Britain - threw cans of beer, flares and traffic cones into the air.
Footage posted on social media showed hundreds of supporters battling to get past lines of stewards and police, trying to force their way through security cordons and scaling walls.
Another video appeared to show violent clashes between fans inside Wembley itself.
Police said in a statement that a "breach of security... resulted in a small number of people getting into the stadium without a ticket" but the number appeared to swell the official crowd significantly.
Italy had been arguably the team of the tournament heading into the final, sweeping through the group stage with a perfect record before knocking out Austria, top-ranked Belgium and Spain to reach the final.
Revitalised since Mancini took over after their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Azzurri were on a remarkable 33-match unbeaten run before the final.
The four-time world champions' lone European Championship triumph came in 1968. They were beaten finalists in 2000 and 2012.
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