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England suffer more penalty he...
Soccer

England suffer more penalty heartbreak as wait to win major tournament goes on

Ann-Marie Donelan
Ann-Marie Donelan

23:07 11 Jul 2021

England's wait to win a major tournament goes on after losing Sunday's Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties. 

England made the perfect start and went ahead after just two minutes of play at Wembley Stadium.

Harry Maguire gave away an early corner but cleared it well and allowed England to break on the counter-attack.

Harry Kane then drove forward with the ball, before firing it out to the right-wing to Kieran Trippier who whipped a lovely cross to the far side of the box.

Luke Shaw had made a great run around the back and was ready and free to take a shot on the half volley to smash it into the back of the net in just the second minute of play.

It was the first time in the competition Italy went behind and as they tried to chase the game, England then pretty much dominated the entire first half.

Italy really missed the injured Leonardo Spinazzola and were unable to get forward as they have so impressively so far in the tournament at all and couldn't really create anything.

In the 27th minute, there was a telling moment that showed how desperate Italy were.

Unable to create any way past such a dominating England, Lorenzo Insigne had no option but to shoot from a long way out.

He did, and pulled his poor effort wide of the left-hand post.

It kooked at this stage like it was going to be England's night.

Then in the 35th minute, we got a glimpse and a reminder of arguably England's greatest vulnerability - Jordan Pickford.

Federico Chiesa shoved Declan Rice away from the ball in the middle of the pitch and drove towards the English penalty box.

The centre-backs dropped off and Chiesa smacked a left-footed effort from just outside the box.

Pickford was beaten, rooted to the spot as the ball went just inches wide of the right-hand post.

Gareth Southgate's side went in 1-0 up at the break but things quickly shifted in the second half.

Italy came out looking far fresher and quickly got into the game; hungry and dominating possession.

The Italians forced England to go deeper and deeper and they were unable to get any out ball as Pickford became increasingly agitated as he screamed at his defenders in frustration.

The atmosphere in the stadium, which was largely made up of English fans, started to change as it looked like Italy's equaliser was on the way.

Then in the 67th minute, it was level from an Italian setpiece.

Chiesa won a corner and Italy won the flick on at the near post, it bounced over to Marco Verratti who dived at the ball and headed it towards goal.

Pickford managed to push it onto the near post but it bounced back to Leonardo Bonucci who tapped it into the net to get his first goal for his country in seven games.

England then did nothing much before the end of 90 minutes.

There was no creative urgency about them, they looked like they didn't know what do as Italy continued to press and press as the Wembley crowd vented their frustration with boos before the end of normal time.

The 30 minutes of extra time were tense, with neither side having any great chances.

In the eighth minute of extra-time, Jack Grealish came on for Mason Mount much to the delight of the home crowd.

The Villa man did look lively and sharp but Southgate's side didn't get on the opportunity to get on the end of much as it looked more and more likely this was going to go all the way.

Italy's best chance in this period was in the 107th minute when Jordan Pickford needed two attempts to control Federico Bernardeschi's impressive effort from a long way out with Jorginho sniffing around for the rebound.

Jorginho was lucky to remain on the pitch just a few minutes later as he caught Grealish right on top of the knee with his studs.

Grealish was fuming Jorginho only received a yellow card with the Italian fans relieved as he's such a quality penalty taker.

Both sides then looked happy to see the clock wind down as attention turned towards who would take the spot-kicks.

In the penalty shootout, Harry Kane and Harry Maguire slotted theirs home for England but Southgate's two substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missed theirs.

Jordan Pickford kept it alive though after the two blunders, savings Jorginho's.

Then it all fell on 19-year-old Bukayo Saka's shoulders to take the deciding kick and he missed it, meaning Italy win their second European Championship title.

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