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Italy claimed its first European championship since 1968 after goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved twice in a dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout win in the Euro 2020 final against England at Wembley on Sunday.
After a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes, Donnarumma saved from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka – Marcus Rashford also missed hitting a post with his penalty – to bring glory to Roberto Mancini’s team in London.
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andrea belotti and jorginho had their penalties saved by england’s jordan pickford, but saka’s donnarumma save decided the game to give italy the title.
“The guys were extraordinary. I have no words for them, this is a magnificent group. There were no easy games and this one became very difficult, but then we dominated,” Italy boss Mancini said.
“You need a bit of luck on penalties and I feel a bit sorry for England. This team has grown so much that I think there is still room for improvement. We are very happy for everyone.”
England had taken the lead within two minutes when Luke Shaw, on the eve of his 26th birthday, scored the fastest goal in the European Championship final after one minute and 57 seconds.
but italy, undefeated in 33 matches before this final, took the match to extra time when leonardo bonucci equalized in the 67th minute.
Having been outplayed early in the game, Italy were strengthened with manager Roberto Mancini making greater use of his substitutions than his England counterpart Gareth Southgate, who pulled off a tactical surprise before the game.
southgate made a change to their starting line-up since the semi-final win against denmark by selecting atletico madrid winger kieran trippier over arsenal saka, allowing their team to play with a three-man defense men.
That tactical change allowed Shaw and Trippier to play as forward full-backs and the plan paid off in the first two minutes when Shaw opened the scoring with his first international goal.
the manchester united defender started the play in his own half by passing a pass to harry kane before running towards the italy penalty area. Kane, meanwhile, moved the ball to Trippier on the right flank and the former Tottenham full-back held off his cross long enough for Shaw to reach the far post and score with a half-volley past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
England maintained their impressive start, with Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips controlling the Southgate team’s midfield, but Italy grew into play in the closing stages of the first half.
although chances were limited, federico chiesa came close with a low left-footed shot from 20 meters that narrowly missed the england post shortly before half time.
chiesa’s near miss proved to be a warning of things to come in the second half, with italy dominating the game and creating a number of chances before bonucci leveled the score midway through the second half.
lorenzo insigne sent a free kick wide from 20 yards in the 50th minute before england goalkeeper pickford was forced to dive low to his left to deny chiesa after a wild run and shot by the england striker juventus.
However, Italy’s dominance was rewarded when Bonucci struck from close range after England failed to clear a corner. Bonucci rebounded after Pickford hit Marco Verratti’s header on the post.
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southgate attempted to stem the tide for england by replacing trippier and rice with saka and jordan henderson, but italy continued to dictate play and remained in control of the team for the rest of the 90 minutes and the opening period of extra time.
apart from federico bernardeschi’s 30-yard free kick in the 117th minute, which was deflected by pickford, clear chances became limited as the game progressed towards the end of extra time and penalties.
kane was devastated to get this close, only to fall short in front of the home fans.
“We had a perfect start, maybe we fell a little too deep. When you score so early, it’s easy to try to soak up the pressure and try to hang on to that, and that’s probably what happened,” Kane said.
“They had a lot of the ball, they had a lot of possession, but to be fair we seemed pretty controlled, they didn’t create too many chances and then obviously they got their breakthrough.”
kane was quick to commiserate with rashford, sancho, and saka, who missed the gunfight.
he said: “you have to keep your head up. a fantastic tournament and these things can happen, a penalty shootout, you go through your process and put it where you want to put it, but anyone can miss a penalty: we won together and we lose together.”
England were playing their first grand final in 55 years since winning the 1966 world cup. This was their last pain in the shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012.