Italy top England in Penalty Shootout, Win Dramatic Euro 2020 Final

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2021

Italian players celebrate after the penalty shootout of the Euro 2020 soccer final match between England and Italy at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, July 11, 2021. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool via AP)
Laurence Griffiths/Pool via AP

Italy spoiled the party for England and its fans, securing the Euro 2020 title through penalty kicks Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Ninety minutes weren't enough to settle the match despite Luke Shaw giving England an early lead. Leonardo Bonucci equalized in the second half for Italy, eventually forcing extra time with a 1-1 scoreโ€”the second successive extra-time match for both teams.

After 30 scoreless minutes of extra time, the match came down to penalty kicks. 

It created an opportunity for goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to become the hero after saving two shots on the way to a 3-2 Italy win.

ESPN @espn

DONNARUMMA SAVES THE PENALTY!<br><br>ITALY ARE <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EURO2020?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EURO2020</a> CHAMPIONS ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น <a href="https://t.co/qZE20KQMCG">pic.twitter.com/qZE20KQMCG</a>

It gave the Azzurri their first European title since 1968. They completed an impressive run to the championship with wins over England, Spain and Belgium. 

England had been seeking its first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, but fans will have to wait for at least a little longer for it to come home.

Donnarumma came up huge for Italy in the penalties, although there were major question marks surrounding the selection process for England manager Gareth Southgate heading into penalties.

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were each subbed on in the closing minutes of extra time specifically for penalties but both missed, with Rashford hitting the post.

Mark Ogden @MarkOgden_

A lot has been said about how England have learned how to win penalty shoot-outs, but having two players on for 90 seconds before taking one doesn't seem very scientific. Really tough for Rashford and Sancho.

Bukayo Saka was then asked to save the day for England but the 19-year-old fell short.

It ruined what had been a dream start for England as Kieran Trippier assisted Luke Shaw for a goal less than two minutes into the match.

ESPN @espn

WHAT A START FOR ENGLAND!!!<br><br>LUKE SHAW SCORES IN THE 2ND MINUTE ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ <a href="https://t.co/yJVrDqLs6E">pic.twitter.com/yJVrDqLs6E</a>

B/R Football @brfootball

1 minute, 57 seconds. The fastest goal ever scored in a European Championship final <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Euro2020?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Euro2020</a> <a href="https://t.co/7FlGDTfgiI">pic.twitter.com/7FlGDTfgiI</a>

The connection from wing back to wing back helped provide an early reward for Southgate, who made the tactical switch to use five defenders in the match after going with a 4-2-3-1 formation in the semifinal win over Denmark.

Trippier got the start after only playing in extra time last match, and the adjusted formation made a significant difference in the first half.

Dan Kilpatrick @Dan_KP

Trippier having loads of joy down the right. Italy don't look prepared for England's wing-backs. Another Southgate astute change by Southgate as it stands.

With two defensive midfielders also in the lineup, Italy struggled to get many scoring opportunities on the way to a 1-0 halftime score.

Italy controlled 64 percent of possession and outshot England 6-1 in the first half, but there were few chances that truly tested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The second half was a different story, as the Azzurri picked up the pressure and began to penetrate into the final third while England barely even looked at the net.

Federico Chiesa was the biggest difference-maker while creating several quality opportunities near the net:

B/R Football @brfootball

Big. Save. Jordan. Pickford. ๐Ÿงค<br><br>(๐ŸŽฅ: <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>)<a href="https://t.co/inm8nsfe6P">pic.twitter.com/inm8nsfe6P</a>

In the 67th minute, Italy finally got the equalizer as defender Leonardo Bonucci scored after a corner kick:


BONUCCI ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น<br><br>Italy are back in this final!! <a href="https://t.co/7lBvKnDUr3">pic.twitter.com/7lBvKnDUr3</a>

It set up loads of drama for the final 20 minutes of regulation, but neither team found a winner.

An injury to Chiesa took away a major scoring threat for Italy, while England had trouble getting the ball to its attackers. It was surprisingly the defenders who made the biggest plays on both sides.

Paul Carr @PaulCarr

England had four shots (0.42 xG) in regulation:<br><br>๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ Defender Luke Shaw<br>๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ Defender Harry Maguire<br>๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ Defender John Stones<br>๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ Defender Luke Shaw

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

According to <a href="https://twitter.com/StatsPerform?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StatsPerform</a> Italy vs England is the first EURO or World Cup final in history to feature multiple goals by defenders.<br><br>This is also the first EURO final where both teams scored since 2000 (France 2-1 Italy) <a href="https://t.co/3PYkfAnQRj">pic.twitter.com/3PYkfAnQRj</a>

The two sides stayed relatively conservative in extra time, each seemingly playing for penalties while hoping to avoid a drastic mistake. It led to a scoreless set of halves as the match came down to attempts from the spot.

Pickford saved shots from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho to keep England alive, but the offensive players couldn't do enough to lead the host country to victory.

Italy arguably deserved the title after outplaying England for much of the day, while England must now turn its head toward the 2022 World Cup as they try to bring it home.