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Italy beat England on penalties to clinch Euro title

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Italy won the European Championship for the first time since 1968 as Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two England penalties en route to a 3-2 shootout win after the teams had fought out a 1-1 extra-time draw at a raucous Wembley on Sunday.

The giant keeper saved from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after Marcus Rashford hit a post, as Federico Bernardeschi, Leonardo Bonucci and Domenico Berardi all scored for the Italians.

Luke Shaw had given England a dream start with a superb goal after two minutes but Italy, who offered almost nothing in response in the first half, gradually took command as the hosts sat back and levelled through Bonucci after 67 minutes.

It was the first final to be decided on penalties since Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in 1976 and will be wildly celebrated in Italy after they lost in the final in 2000 and 2012.

They made most of the running after halftime and in extra time and England can have few complaints after their early promise faded away.

It was nevertheless heartbreaking for most of the 67,000 Wembley crowd as England came up short in their first major final since they won the World Cup 55 years ago.

It had all started so well when Harry Kane spread the ball wide to Kieran Trippier and he instantly repaid coach Gareth Southgate’s faith in recalling him by sending over a curling deep cross that the fast-arriving Shaw met on the half volley to hammer inside the post for his first international goal.

England had taken an early lead in their 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia before eventually being outplayed and beaten in extra time, but they did not look like giving up the initiative on home soil, playing on the front foot, though failing to threaten Donnarumma.

England keeper Jordan Pickford was similarly untroubled as Federico Chiesa’s crisp shot went just wide and Ciro Immobile’s blocked effort were all Italy had to show for a disjointed half.

England’s well-drilled defence, which had conceded just one goal, via a Danish free kick, in their six previous tournament games, held them at arm’s length and Italian frustration was summed up by centre back Bonucci letting fly wildly from 35 metres with the last kick of the half – much to the disgust of his team mates.

Pickford was called into action after 57 minutes, blocking a Lorenzo Insigne shot and then getting down to palm away from Chiesa as Italy began to apply pressure, pinning England back.

It paid dividends when Bonucci pounced from close range after Pickford had turned Andrea Belotti’s header onto a post.

England could have no complaints, having virtually invited their opponents on and offered almost nothing in attack, and they would have been somewhat relieved to go into extra time.

It was a similar story in the first additional 15 minutes, though England did briefly force their way back into the game in the second period, albeit without either side creating anything to reward the crowd for their waves of noise.

So it went to penalties, where England’s young guns failed and Italy took the glory.

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Italy have won their second European Championship title, and first in 53 years (also 1968); it’s the longest ever gap between championships in the tournament by a single nation, surpassing Spain’s 44-year wait from 1964 to 2008.

Italy have won their sixth major tournament title (4 World Cup, 2 EUROs); among European nations, only Germany (7) have won more.

England have won just 22% (2/9) of their major tournament shootouts (World Cup/EUROs), the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.

Italy found themselves trailing in a game for the first time at EURO 2020, while overall they spent 65 minutes behind against England in the final, 21 more than they had been behind in their 33-game unbeaten run (in all competitions) coming into the final (44).

England posted their lowest possession in a game at Wembley (34.4%) since November 2016 v Spain (34.3%).

Gareth Southgate has made at least one change to the England starting XI for 37 consecutive matches, making a total of 200 changes in that time and last staying with the same starting line-up in the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

At 1 minute 57 seconds, Luke Shaw’s opener (his first ever goal for England) was the quickest-ever goal scored in the final of the European Championships, while it was also England’s quickest ever in the competition overall and the earliest Italy have ever conceded in the competition.

At 34 years and 71 days, Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci became the oldest player ever to score in a European Championship final, and second-oldest for a European side in any major tournament final (World Cup/EUROs), after Nils Liedholm for Sweden v Brazil at the 1958 World Cup (35y 264d).

Italy’s Marco Veratti created 14 goal-scoring chances at EURO 2020, the most of any player.

Among European players since the start of the 2018 World Cup, only Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne (36) has created more goal-scoring chances at major tournaments (Euro/World Cup) than England’s Kieran Trippier (29).

Against Italy, Harry Kane failed to muster a shot or create a goal-scoring chance for only the second time in his 61 appearances for England, also doing so in a friendly against Switzerland in September 2018.

At 19 years 309 days old, Bukayo Saka became the fourth-youngest European Championship finalist, after Renato Sanches in 2016 (18y 327d), Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004 (19y 150d) and Anatoliy Baidachniy in 1972 (19y 261d).

Leonardo Bonucci became Italy’s outright top appearance maker at the European Championships, courtesy of his 18th game, moving one clear of Gianluigi Buffon (17), with Giorgio Chellini also notching his 17th game in the competition.

Only Ashley Cole (22), Peter Shilton (20) and David Beckham (19) have started more major tournament games (Euro/World Cup) for England than Raheem Sterling (18, level with Lineker, Rooney and Gerrard).

At the age of 36 years and 331 days, Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini is now the third-oldest player to appear in a European Championship final, after Jens Lehmann for Germany in 2008 (38y 232d) and Arnold Mühren for Netherlands in 1988 (37y 23d).

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