England’s dreams of bringing football home shattered as Italy emerge victorious through a tough penalty shootout.
The Englishmen started out the game very strong having scored early on thanks to Luke Shaw. Gareth Southgate’s side then continued to dominate the Italians for the rest of the game until Leonardo Bonucci salvaged an equaliser midway through the second half.
Alas, a breakthrough was never found even after extra-time and the match headed into penalties where Bukayo Saka’s miss won the game for Roberto Mancini’s side.
What exactly went wrong for England? Let’s take a look at what we can learn from the shootout loss:
1. Hand of God
Gianluigi Donnarumma came through for his country yet again with his penalty saving abilities. The new Paris Saint-Germain keeper fended off Saka’s decisive penalty to bring the trophy home for the Azzurri.
The talented shot-stopper displayed a similar performance against Spain where he earned Italy qualification to the final with his saves. The Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament has undoubtedly been vital to Italy’s triumph.
2. Southgate’s Substitutions Backfired
The gaffer kept Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho on the bench until the dying minutes of extra-time, with the clear intention of preparing for the upcoming penalty shootout.
However, that decision backfired on him as neither of the pair managed to settle into the game; nerves got the best of the young duo. The pressure 21-year-old Sancho felt as he walked up to take the fourth penalty must have been intense.
The manager should’ve atleast kept Liverpool captain Henderson for the situation. He failed to consider experience and mental strength tonight.
3. Even Worse Decision
Southgate had Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and several more senior players at his disposal to send for the shootout.
But he picked a 19-year-old to take the penalty, which would make or break the tie for the Three Lions. Saka ultimately failed to convert the spot-kick, allowing the opposition to take home the prize.
The pressure of having to take penalties in a European final could be witnessed when Jorginho missed his chance. If one of Europe’s best penalty takers can crumble under the weight, how can one expect a teenager to remain calm?
After extra-time, things could have gone both ways. But a few poor decisions from the man in charge may have contributed most to England’s failure.
Nevertheless, the Italians are well-deserved winners. It is safe to say – yet again – that it is NOT coming home.