England suffer penalty despair in Euro 2020 final
- Credit: AP
England’s long wait for a major championship victory continued on Sunday night as they endured yet more penalty heartache against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Italy held their nerve in the shoot-out with Bukayo Saka missing the crucial penalty after Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho had also earlier failed from the spot.
England got off to the perfect start in the second minute when Luke Shaw slammed home from Kieran Trippier’s fine cross. However, Italy came on strong in the second half and restored parity thanks to Leonardo Bonucci’s close range finish.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was the Azzurri’s hero in the shoot-out saving from both Sancho and Saka after Rashford had seen his effort hit the post.
England manager Gareth Southgate took full responsibility for England’s failure from the spot.
“We prepared as well as we could for that and that’s my responsibility, I chose the guys to take the kicks,” he said.
“No one is on their own in that situation. We decided to make the changes right at the end of the game and we win and lose together as team.”
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On selecting Saka to take the fifth penalty and also making very late substitutions to get more takers on Southgate added: “That’s my decision to give him that penalty so it is totally my responsibility: it is not him, Marcus or Jadon. We worked on it in training and that’s the order we came to. My call as coach.
“It is always the risk you run but they have been by far the best and to get all those attacking players on you have to do it late.
“It was a gamble but if we gambled earlier we may have lost the game in extra-time any way.”
Victory for Italy gave them their second European Championships victory to add to their four World Cup wins.
Meanwhile, England still has the solitary one World Cup win to their name although the country has been heartened by the performances of Harry Kane and Co over the last month.
Once they get over the disappointment of last night’s defeat, they will be hoping to take their quest for glory to Qatar next year for the World Cup.
Football still hasn’t come home but it’s never been so close.