Italians win the title in dramatic penalty shootout

 Italians win the title in dramatic penalty shootout

Soccer Football – Euro 2020 – Final – Italy v England – Wembley Stadium, London, Britain – July 11, 2021 Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne celebrate with the trophy after winning Euro 2020 with teammates Pool via REUTERS/Andy Rain

Italy are the champions of Europe. On Sunday in the Euro 2020 final, the Italians defeated England in a penalty shootout to become the undisputed kings of the continent. The win is Italy’s second ever Euro title and first since 1968. It was the first shootout in a Euro final since 1976.

England manager Gareth Southgate brought on both Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to take penalty kicks, and both missed.

Rashford hit the left post and Sancho’s effort was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma. The goalkeeper saved young talent Bukayo Saka’s attempt, which was England’s fifth, to clinch the title.

A second-half goal from Italy forced extra time as they were level with England 1-1 after 90 minutes. After Luke Shaw’s second-minute opener, it was defender Leonardo Bonucci who got the Italians on the board at Wembley Stadium, cleaning up a loose ball inside the box with 23 minutes to go. As a result, 30 minutes of extra time will be played, with penalty kicks deciding it if no team has the advantage after the half of hour of additional play.

In the first half, England had just one shot, but boy did they capitalize on it. It was Kieran Trippier’s fine ball to an open back post in the second minute, with Shaw putting the ball away with a fine touch that saw it hit the post and get past Donnarumma.

From that moment on, Italy saw most of the ball and had six shots during the remainder of the half, but most of them weren’t all that great aside from a Federico Chiesa effort that went wide of the right post. England defended well, were quick to react and closed down in a timely manner to frustrate Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and company.

With changes needed for the Italians, Roberto Mancini opted to bring in midfielder Bryan Cristante in the 54th minute, and shortly after, he played a huge part in them drawing even. On a corner kick, he flicked a header to the back post, which saw Marco Verratti head on frame. The effort was saved by Jordan Pickford, but Bonucci was there to clean it up, finishing from a yard out to square things with just over 20 minutes to go.

Both teams lacked quality chances during the rest of regulation, with Italy looking a bit more threatening. After six minutes of added time, regulation was over ahead of extra time.

Alice Nachilembe

Alice Nachilembe is a Journalist who yearns for a better country with leaders being accountable to their mandate without oppressing the governed.