Italy win Euro 2020 as England suffer more penalty heartbreak

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The agony and torture goes on. The pain of another penalty shoot defeat feels almost too much to bear.

They came so close to ending England’s 55 year wait for a major trophy but ultimately the heartbreak was devastating, players in tears as Gareth Southgate consoled them on the pitch.

It was an all too familiar feeling, this shoot-out might just be the worst of all because of what was at stake at Wembley with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these players.

You can only feel sorry for Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka who took England’s fifth and final penalty and yet saw his effort saved brilliantly by Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Bukayo Saka was left disconsolate after missing the final penalty as England suffered more heartbreak

It was a moment which will haunt not just Saka but England because this was supposed to be their time, their chance and yet football did not come home after all.

It has been a wonderful month, an unforgettable journey and memories will live on when the pain of defeat subsides.

But, ultimately, this team will view it as a disappointment, reaching the final will be no consolation because for Southgate and his players winning is everything.

There will be no consolation in defeat, no comfort from how well they have played, how they united a nation and left everyone dreaming.

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Just more shoot-out agony, they went ahead through Luke Shaw’s second minute opener but did not have the experience or character to keep out Italy or stop them coming back.

This team still looks a work in progress, they have made great strides from three years ago in the World Cup but they did not show enough game management to see it out.

Instead, it was Italy’s wily old campaigners, Roberto Mancini’s men who came back and, after a tense and torturous 120 minutes, they kept their heads while England lost theirs.

Luke Shaw got off England to the perfect start
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)

It was so cruel on England and in particular Southgate who has been remarkable in this tournament and, as the stadium emptied out, the Italian fans chanted: “It’s coming home” just to rub salt in the wounds.

England did not deserve to lose like this, especially after playing so well in the final as Southgate again surprised everyone – not least Mancini – with another tactical masterclass by going to a back three with wing backs.

While Southgate’s decision to switch to a back three and wing backs left many puzzled, no-one was quite as bamboozled as Italy boss Roberto Mancini.

Italy seemed to have no answer or any clue as to how to stop England enjoying quite so much space down the flanks. Luke Shaw was rampant down the left, Kieran Trippier had acres down the right and Kane had space to run into in the middle.

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It was Shaw who started the move for England’s opener, his pass found Kane who swept the ball wide to Trippier on the right, Kyle Walker made a brilliant run to pull the Italy defence out of position and Trippier’s cross found Shaw at the back post.

It was Luke Shaw who have England the lead after 1 minute and 50 seconds as the left wing back smashed home Kieran Trippier’s cross from the right. What a start. What a story for Shaw with his first ever England goal.

England were terrific in the first half, Declan Rice terrific in midfield, they had so much energy and Italy were second best. But this Italy team are unbeaten in 34 games for a reason and that is because they are resilient and refuse to give up.

Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka

Giorgio Chiellini led by example, brave and sold at the back. The goal had been coming when it arrived in the 67th minute amid a horrible goalmouth scramble in the England box.

Mason Mount could not stop Marco Verratti getting a header, Pickford pushed the ball onto the post but there was Leonardo Bonucci who smashed home the loose ball.

Both teams could have nicked it, but they were running on empty by the end. Jorginho could have been sent off for an awful foul on Jack Grealish. But neither could find a way through as it went to penalties.

Kane and Harry Maguire scored for England but Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Saka and Jadon Sancho while Marcus Rashford hit the post. Domenico Berardi, Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi scored for Italy.

Andrea Belotti saw his effort saved by Pickford who then made an even better stop to deny Jorginho who had the chance to clinch it. That gave England a reprieve but, heartbreakingly, Saka could not take it. That was England’s dreams finished.

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