'It's going to Rome': England heartbreak as Italy wins Euro 2020 title

·5-min read
Italy lifted the Euro 2020 trophy after a thrilling penalty shootout triumph over England. Pic: Getty
Italy lifted the Euro 2020 trophy after a thrilling penalty shootout triumph over England. Pic: Getty

Italy has come from behind to shatter England's hopes of winning a first European championship after sealing victory in a dramatic Euro 2020 penalty shootout.

Luke Shaw's record-setting first half goal for England was cancelled out by Italian veteran Leonardo Bonucci in the second half, before Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma proved the hero in a drama-charged penalty shootout.

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Shaw gave England a dream start after scoring the fastest ever goal in a European championship final.

The Manchester United fullback started and completed a superb passing move from the home side - meeting Kieran Trippier's cross from the right with a sweetly struck half-volley that grazed the side of the post before nestling into the net inside two minutes.

Italy gradually worked their way back into the contest, with Federico Chiesa a constant menace for England as he caused havoc on both flanks for the visitors.

The Italian winger drew a smart save out of England keeper Jordan Pickford towards the end of the first half and following a period of sustained pressure after the break, Italy finally made England pay.

The home side failed to deal with an Italian corner and after Pickford touched a header onto the post, Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci was on hand to sweep in a 67th minute equaliser.

Italy continued to dominate proceedings after the goal but couldn't convert the pressure into a winning goal as the match went into extra time.

England manager Gareth Southgate brought on Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish to try and provide a spark for England but chances were few and far between for both sides in the first period of extra time.

The second period saw test the nerves of home fans after he fumbled a Federico Bernardeschi free kick but managed to gather the rebound before Jorginho could follow up.

Italy took it to England in the final moments after a series of late changes, but neither side could fashion a breakthrough before the dreaded penalty shootout.

History made as Italy win shootout

After progressing past Spain in a penalty shootout earlier in the tournament, Italy had to rewrite history as no side had ever won more than one shootout at a European championship.

Pickford gave England hope after guessing correctly to save Italy's second spot kick from Andrea Belotti.

After successful penalties from Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, England's Marcus Rashford missed after striking the post.

Italy celebrate after their penalty shootout victory against England in the Euro 2020 final. Pic: Getty
Italy celebrate after their penalty shootout victory against England in the Euro 2020 final. Pic: Getty

Fellow England substitute Jadon Sancho then saw his effort saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma but Pickford gave England a chance after stopping the usually dependable Jorginho.

It all rested on the young shoulders of 19-year-old Bukayo Saka to keep England in it, but the imposing Donnarumma telegraphed his spot kick to win it for Italy, leaving the football world in raptures.

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It was less than four years ago that the Italians plunged to the lowest moment of its soccer history by failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades.

Now, they are the best team in Europe and on a national-record 34-match unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini, their suave coach.

England were playing in their first major final in 55 years. It's the latest heartache in shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012.

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 Roberto Mancini took over as coach 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.

Southgate has revolutionised English football since taking charge in 2016, leading his team to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, where they were beaten by Croatia but they fell just short at Wembley.

with agencies

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