Soccer-Italy crowned European champion after shootout victory against England
Band Mitch Phillips
LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) – 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 victory after the teams clashed 1-1 in overtime at a noisy Wembley Sunday.
The giant keeper was saved by 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 gave England a dream start with a superb goal after two minutes, but Italy, which offered next to nothing in response in the first half, gradually took the lead as the hosts pulled back. folded back and equalized by Bonucci after 67 minutes.
It was the first final to be played on penalties since Czechoslovakia defeated West Germany in 1976 and will be much celebrated in Italy following their defeat in the final in 2000 and 2012.
They have done most of the race after halftime and in overtime and England may have few complaints after their initial promise has faded.
It was nonetheless heartbreaking for most of Wembley’s 67,000 spectators as England failed to live up to their first major final since winning the World Cup 55 years ago.
It all started so well when Harry Kane extended the ball to Kieran Trippier and he instantly repaid coach Gareth Southgate’s faith by calling him back by sending a deep curling cross which Shaw met in a half volley to hammer in the l inside the post for his first international goal.
England had taken the lead in their 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia before finally being outscored and beaten in overtime, but they didn’t look like they were giving up the initiative at home, playing on the front foot, without threatening. Donnarumma.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was just as serene as
Federico Chiesa’s net shot passed right by and Ciro Immobile’s blocked effort was all Italy had to show for a rambling half.
The well-established English defense, who had conceded only one goal, via a Danish free kick, in their last six tournament games, held them at arm’s length and the Italian frustration was summed up by the center-back Bonucci who flew wildly from the 35 meters with the last kick of half-time – to the disgust of his teammates.
Pickford was called into action after 57 minutes, blocking a Lorenzo Insigne shot and then moving away from Chiesa’s palm as Italy started to press, pinning England back.
It paid off when Bonucci leapt from close range after Pickford turned Andrea Belotti’s head on a post.
England had no complaints, having virtually invited their opponents and offered next to nothing in attack, and they would have been somewhat relieved to go into overtime.
It was a similar story in the first 15 extra minutes, although England briefly forced themselves back into the game in the second half, with neither side creating anything to reward the crowd for their waves of noise.
So it went to penalties, where the young English players failed and Italy took the glory.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)
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