The fairytale finish was not to be in the EURO 2020 Final, with England losing to Italy on penalties after a dramatic 120 minutes.
The EURO 2020 final got off to a cracking start with England taking the lead at Wembley after just two minutes when Luke Shaw volleyed home a Kieran Trippier cross. Wembley was abuzz with “It’s Coming Home” chants, but it didn’t take long for Italy to find its rhythm and way into the match.
We’ve already spoken about how slick Italian coach Roberto Mancini looks on the sideline, but today it was his team who stole the show. After a tense forty-five minutes, the Azzurri struck back in the second half; a scrappy Leonardo Bonnuci goal tied the EURO 2020 Final at 1-1.
🇮🇹 Leonardo Bonucci for the Azzurri! 🇮🇹
Scrappy, and far from elegant. But the Italians have their goal and that's all that matters.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) July 11, 2021
In the last quarter of the game, both England and Italy went close, but neither team could break the deadlock. As many predicted, the EURO 2020 Final at Wembley was headed for extra time much to the delight of many in the crowd, including celeb-pals, Tom Cruise and David Beckham.
While Mancini opted to empty his bench, England coach Gareth Southgate was hesitant, bringing on 19-year-old Bakayo Saka and Jack Grealish. England dominated extra time but were unable to cut a path through Italy’s brick wall defence, led by the old guard of Leonardo Bonnuci and Georgio Chiellini.
By the time the referee blew the whistle to indicate the end of extra time, Wembley appeared all, but out of breath as the previously unthinkable began to inch closer: It’s Not Coming Home.
England has a long and torrid history with penalties in major tournaments, and no one is more painfully aware of that than the Three Lions coach, Gareth Southgate. Southgate famously missed his penalty in the semi-final of the EURO 1996 tournament against Germany.
The EURO 2020 final offered an opportunity for Southgate to exercise those demons once and for all, but it was not to be.
The decision to bring on Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho for the shootout proved costly, with both players seeing their efforts saved by Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Italy also had two penalties saved, with England keeper Jordan Pickford pulling off two enormous saves to deny Jorginho and Andrea Belotti.
Ultimately, the responsibility to keep England in the tie fell to 19-year-old Bukayo Saka. Donnarumma guessed the right way and denied Saka the goal, cementing Italy’s status as the champions of Europe. It’s not coming home; it’s going to Rome.
The decision to hand 19-year-old Saka the fifth and decisive penalty kick in the EURO 2020 Final is sure to be a talking point long after the final whistle.
Leonardo Bonucci, who scored Italy’s tying goal and then converted his penalty kick in the shootout, got the last word on the “It’s coming home” set.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021