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Italy edge past England in penalty shootout to win UEFA EURO 2020

The Italy team after winning the UEFA EURO 2020 trophy. Photo: UEFA

London, July 12 (MNN) Italy edged past England 3-2 in the penalty shootout to bag their second UEFA Euro title here.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two penalties for the winners after a tense final match was level at 1-1 even after extra time at the Wembley here on Sunday (local time).

Donnarumma denied Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho chances to score, while Marcus Rashford hit the post.

England had a dream start to their first ever EURO showpiece as Luke Shaw shot in a fine goal inside two minutes to light up the Wembley stadium.

Yet, Italy – who were playing their fourth EURO final – slowly found their feet and midway through the second half Leonardo Bonucci found the net.

The play went into extra time, and then penalties, where both goalkeepers saved two goals each, though history belongs to Donnarumma.

The match earlier began on an electric note. With less than two minutes on the clock, Harry Kane spread a pass out wide to surprise starter Kieran Trippier, and his delightful cross was met by a crisp left-footed half-volley from the stealthy Shaw.

If the atmosphere was electric before, it was enough to power half of north London once the goal went in.

The Azzurri were shocked but showed their mettle as they regrouped, gained a foothold and started stringing passes together.

Only the final pass, the final shot let them down – not always by much, with the excellent Federico Chiesa whistling a shot just wide before the break.

The pressure ratcheted up after half-time and eventually it told. Domenico Berardi’s corner caused all manner of problems, and though Jordan Pickford pushed Marco Verratti’s header onto the post, Bonucci was there to prod in.

Italy came again and again, but England held on.

As the contest moved into the shootout, Pickford denied Andrea Belotti and Jorginho goals whereas Rashford struck the post. Sancho, also introduced on 120 minutes, was denied by Donnarumma.

Saka, the youngest man on the pitch, could have taken it to sudden death, but Donnarumma guessed right and, once and for all, England’s unofficial anthem Sweet Caroline was silenced.

For a generation of Italy fans, the good times really have never seemed so good.

Italy are the fourth side to win multiple EURO titles after Germany (3), Spain (3) and France (2).

The 53-year gap between their titles is the longest in EURO history.

This was the seventh EURO final to go to extra time (after 1960, 1968, 1976, 1996, 2000 and 2016) and the second to go to a shoot-out (1976).

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