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Football goes to Rome! Italy fight back to win Euro 2020 in England

Gareth Southgate's selection of kickers will be long questioned now
11 July 2021, United Kingdom, London: Italy players celebrate with the trophy after the final whistle of the UEFA EURO 2020 final soccer match between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Christian Charisius/dpa
Italy players celebrate with the trophy after the final whistle at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Christian Charisius/dpa.

Football went to Rome from Wembley on Sunday thanks to an astonishing penalty shoot-out ending 3-2 in Italy's favour to defeat England in the Euro 2020 final after a 1-1 draw.

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, brought on at the death just to take penalties, both missed and though Jorginho spurned Italy's first opportunity to win, Gianluigi Donnarumma then saved from Bukayo Saka.

It is heartbreak for England, seeking to end a title drought from 1966, and for manager Gareth Southgate who missed a crucial spot-kick in the 1996 semi-final shoot-out loss against Germany. His selection of kickers will be long questioned now.

Nearly two full hours previously his judgement looked perfect as the recalled Kieran Trippier crossed for fellow full back Shaw to volley home from the left in under 2 minutes for the fastest-ever goal in a Euro final.

But veteran Leonardo Bonucci scrambled home a 67th minute equalizer and Italy crowned a 34-game unbeaten run under coach Robert Mancini with their second continental trophy after 1968.

The pre-match build-up was marred by seemingly ticketless supporters charging barriers in an attempt to access the stadium with several English media outlets reporting on the incidents and videos on social media showing fans rushing gates.

11 July 2021, United Kingdom, London: Italy's Leonardo Bonucci (C) scores his side's first goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 final soccer match between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Christian Charisius/dpaItaly's Leonardo Bonucci (C) scores his side's goal. Photo: Christian Charisius/dpa.

That gave the impression of a fuller house than the 65,000 permitted in the coronavirus pandemic and with only 7,500 wearing the blue of Italy, the vast majority were soon out their seats - if they were ever in them to begin with.

Ironically it was England's nerves that led to the goal when defender Harry Maguire hit a needless back pass out for a corner and a lightning counter-attack broke the deadlock.

Shaw started the move by finding captain Harry Kane, who in turn released the marauding Trippier on the right. Shaw continued his run to the edge of the six-yard box and found the net via the inside of the post in just 1 minute 56 seconds.

The historic goal, hours before his 26th birthday, made Shaw just the third English scorer in a major final after Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

11 July 2021, United Kingdom, London: England's Luke Shaw celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 final soccer match between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/dpaEngland's Luke Shaw celebrates scoring his side's goal. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/dpa.

Italy were shocked and another cross from Trippier, brought in for Saka as Southgate changed to a back three, caused concern as England dominated the early stages.

Finally balance emerged but Federico Chiesa - who scored twice previously at Wembley - shot just wide after escaping Declan Rice and Jordan Pickford's only save, in first-half injury-time, was a simple one from Marco Verratti.

Italy were playing on the 39th anniversary of their 1982 World Cup win - their third of four - and kept alive their dream of another European crown when Bonucci forced home after Verrati's header was touched onto the post.

Bonucci, who also played the Euro 2012 final lost to Spain alongside captain Giorgio Chiellini, became the oldest final scorer at 34 years and 71 days.

The lively Chiesa going off injured for Federico Bernardeschi was a blow for Italy's attack and Chiellini saved the day at the other end with an astounding late tackle on Rahem Sterling as the game petered out to penalties.

11 July 2021, United Kingdom, London: Italy's Marco Verratti (lLeft) and England's Kalvin Phillips battle for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2020 final soccer match between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire/dpaItaly's Marco Verratti (Left) and England's Kalvin Phillips battle for the ball. Photo: Nick Potts/dpa.

Domenico Berardi and Kane scored the opening penalties before England took advantage when Pickford saved from Andrea Belotti and Maguire smashed home an unstoppable kick.

But Bonucci kept his cool and Bernardeschi dribbled one down the middle between Rashford and Sancho both missing terrible kicks - off the post and saved - from stuttered run-ups.

Chelsea's reliable Jorginho, who netted the winning shoot-out kick against Spain in the semi-final, had his shot touched onto the post but Saka's weak kick was met by Donnarumma diving to his left to secure victory.

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