Italy wrecked England’s Euro 2020 party at Wembley on Sunday, winning a tense final on penalties to plunge the host nation into despair and prolong their 55-year wait for a second major title.
Roberto Mancini’s men recovered from the shock of conceding the quickest goal ever in a European Championship final to equalise and held their nerve to claim a 3-2 shootout victory after a 1-1 draw following extra-time.
It is the second time Italy have been crowned European champions and comes after the embarrassment of failing even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Three players fluffed penalties for England, extending their poor record in shoot-outs and leaving the hosts waiting for another major trophy after the 1966 World Cup.
“We did well,” Mancini told RAI Sport. “We conceded a goal straight away and struggled, but then we dominated the game.
“The lads were wonderful, I don’t know what more to say. It’s important for all the people and all the fans. I hope they’re celebrating (in Italy).”
Italians spilled into the streets from Milan to Palermo to celebrate their side’s triumph, pushing aside thoughts of the coronavirus pandemic which has gripped the nation.
Earlier, a partisan crowd of more than 67,000 mostly England fans at Wembley was whipped into a state of fever pitch by rousing renditions of “Three Lions” and “Sweet Caroline” before kick-off.
Gareth Southgate’s team raced out of the blocks and were ahead in just the second minute when defender Luke Shaw finished coolly at the back post after an inviting cross from Kieran Trippier.
Italy grew stronger as the match went on and equalised with 23 minutes remaining when Leonardo Bonucci scrambled the ball into the net from close range.
With four minutes remaining of normal time a pitch invader stopped the action and stewards struggled to catch him, adding to a sense of chaos at the stadium after ticket-less fans earlier forced their way in.
Normal time finished goalless despite a flurry of substitutions and the sides were still locked at 1-1 after extra time.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved spot-kicks from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho but Marcus Rashford hit the post and Gianluigi Donnarumma kept out Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, sparking scenes of delirium from the players and the small pocket of italian fans. -BSS/AFP