It’s coming to Rome: Italy defeats England in Euro 2020 Final penalty shootout

It’s coming to Rome, not home.

Italy prevailed over England in a penalty shootout 3-2 to defeat England at Wembley Stadium in the Euro 2020 Final. This is Italy’s second Euro title (1968) and the Azzurri extend their unbeaten streak to 34 matches.

England faced Italy in England’s sixth match at Wembley Stadium during Euro 2020. The Azzurri attempted to continue their 33-match unbeaten streak and claim their second Euro championship. The Three Lions, on the other hand, reached the final boss in their quest to bring football home. They have never won a Euro title and hadn’t won a major tournament since 1966.

The match started off with a bang for England.

Luke Shaw smashed Kieran Trippier’s long cross past Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma for the earliest goal ever in a Euro Final. Shaw’s first-career goal for England gave the Three Lions the lead; it is the first deficit for Italy in 18 matches.

Throughout the first half, Italy use their methodical quick-pass attack to find their equalizer. However, many of the attackers’ first touches on those passes were sloppy, disrupting chances. The Azzurri controlled possession but it did not result in any goals.

Federico Chiesa, who scored crucial goals for Italy against Austria and Spain in the knockout stage, had the best chance for Italy in the first half, narrowly missing a strike from outside the penalty box in the 35 minute.

Italy controlled possession for nearly two-thirds of the half, but trailed 1-0 at the halftime break.

The Azzurri came out firing to start the second half. Chiesa dribbled his way through the England backline and got another strong chance to equalize. His shot was saved by the outstretched arm of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The Italians finally found their equalizer shortly afterward in the 67th minute. The ball bounced around Pickford on Emerson’s corner. Pickford saved Marco Verratti’s header, but Leonardo Bonucci tapped in the post rebound to tie the match.

Italy controlled the ball and pushed for the decisive goal to win Euro 2020. They could not capitalize and to make matters worse, Chiesa was subbed off late in the second half with a leg injury.

The two sides headed into extra time with a chance to bring glory to their respective football-crazed nations.

Both teams exchanged the front foot throughout extra time, but no real threatening chances from either side occurred. The two backlines held strong and forced the match into a dramatic penalty shootout.

The shootout was as anxiety-inducing as it can get. To determine the winner of Euro 2020, the two goalkeepers made incredible saves.

Pickford saved Italy’s second attempt on Andrea Belotti’s shot.

Despite the newfound momentum for England, their young star substitutions could not hit their way past Donnarumma. Marcus Rashford hit the post and Donnarunmma saved Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka’s attempts to seal the Euro championship for the Azzurri.

Back on November 13, 2017, Italy lost to Sweden in the World Cup Qualifying playoffs, eliminating them from contention to play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A few months later, Italy slipped to their lowest-ever FIFA rankings (20th). Now, they are champions of Europe.

Roberto Mancini’s renaissance of the Azzurri would make Leonardo da Vinci proud. Italy developed a lot of pace and playmaking on top of their trademark defending and elite goalkeeping. Donnarumma cemented himself in Italy lore with two saves in the shootout, more than filling the shoes of legend Gianluigi Buffon. Italy was clutch all tournament long with three of their four knockout round matches going to extra time, but won all of them.

On the opposite side of the pitch, England suffered heartbreak once again on the biggest stage. They lost a match in a major tournament knockout round after leading 1-0 for the third-straight time. Their young stars could not convert their penalties and the rest of the squad played way too defensively after scoring two minutes into the match.

England will be back in contention for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but manager Gareth Southgate will be searching for answers on how to hold leads and send out the correct lineup to get the job done for the Three Lions.

All eyes now turn to the club level as the English Premier League season will kick off on August 13.

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