England’s hopes of winning Euro 2020 ended in familiar penalty heartbreak as Italy edged a tense shoot-out 3-2 in Sunday’s final.
Substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all failed from the spot as the Italians prevailed after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.
Italy missed two penalties themselves, as Jordan Pickford saved from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho, but Saka’s decisive strike was beaten away by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It had all started so well for England, seeking a first major trophy win since the 1966 World Cup, with Luke Shaw firing them ahead inside two minutes.
But Italy fought back and forced extra time with Leonardo Bonucci tapping in on 67 minutes after Pickford had turned a Marco Verratti header onto the post.
Neither side could find a way through in a tight additional 30 minutes and so the result came down to the drama of penalties.
Southgate holds his hand up
England manager Gareth Southgate, who knows all too well the agony of missing a crucial penalty after his pain at Euro 96, took full responsibility for the side’s failures from the spot.
Two of the players to miss, Rashford and Sancho, were only introduced to the game in the final minute of extra time.
“We prepared as well as we could for that and that’s my responsibility, I chose the guys to take the kicks,” Southgate told ITV.
“No-one is on their own in that situation. We decided to make the changes
right at the end of the game and we win and lose together as team.”
On selecting Saka to take the fifth penalty and also making very late
substitutions to get more takers on, he added: “That’s my decision
to give him that penalty so it is totally my responsibility: It is not him,
Marcus or Jadon.”
Kane consoles team-mates
England captain Harry Kane offered words of encouragement to the three players who missed the penalties.
Kane, who along with Harry Maguire did score in the shoot-out, told the BBC: “Penalties are obviously the worst thing in the world when you lose. It wasn’t our night but it’s been a fantastic tournament and we should be proud, hold our heads up high.
“Of course it’s going to hurt for a while but we are on the right rack and hopefully we can progress from this next year.
“Anyone can miss a penalty. We win together, we lose together. We will learn and these boys will grow from it.
“It will give us more motivation to do well in the World Cup next year.”
Shearer felt penalties were a tough ask for substitutes
Former England striker Alan Shearer felt Southgate was asking a lot of Sancho and Rashford to take penalties.
“It’s a big ask to put players on with a minute to go and say ‘go and take a penalty’ when they’ve had no feel of the ball,” Shearer told the BBC.
Rio Ferdinand, also working as a TV pundit, said none of them should feel shame.
He said: “That’s happened for years, the last five, four, three minutes, players go on as takers.
“Marcus Rashford is a recognised taker. It happens. We look down the years, the biggest and best players miss penalties. Big players of the past… Baggio… they’ve missed penalties.”
The game marked the culmination of a raucous day in London as thousands of supporters descended on the capital to party.
There were some instances of matters getting out of hand, notably at Wembley itself where a number of ticketless fans managed to gain entry to the stadium.
Footage taken from inside Wembley’s perimeter showed fans breaching security cordons to enter the outer compound and head towards the entrance gates.
Numerous reports from inside the arena then suggested many had gained access to the stands themselves, with more spectators than seats in some sections of the ground.
Authorities initially said there were “no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium” but by half-time a Wembley spokesperson confirmed “a small group of people” had gained access.
An FA spokesperson said: “We strongly condemn the behaviour of a group of people that forced their way into Wembley Stadium before the EURO 2020 final. This is entirely unacceptable.
“These people are an embarrassment to the England team and to all of the true fans who wanted to enjoy one of the most important matches in our history.”
Shot of the day
Stat of the day
Fastest goal ever in a EURO final (1 minute, 57 seconds) ✅— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021
Ultimately it may not have been England’s night, but Shaw can take great satisfaction in joining an elite list of players from the country to have scored in a major final. Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters are the only other players on it. His early goal was also a record-breaker for a Euro final, coming after just one minute and 57 seconds.
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