The Punch

Azzurri break three Lions hearts in Wembley, win Euro 2020

Italy 1 (3) england 1 (2) *Azzuri break three lions hearts in Wembley, win euro 2020

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ITALY inflicted more penalty heartache on England to win Sunday’s Euro 2020 final 3-2 in a shoot-out, Bukayo Saka missing the decisive kick to deny the hosts after the game at Wembley had ended in a draining 1-1 draw through extra time.

Saka’s kick was repelled by Gianluigi Donnarumma to give Italy the Henri Delaunay trophy for the second time at the end of a shootout in which England scored their first two penalties but then saw Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also fail.

Jorginho could have won it for Italy only for his penalty to be saved by Jordan Pickford, giving renewed hope to the England support who had earlier created a febrile atmosphere with their team looking set to run away with this final.

The nerve-shredding climax seemed unlikely given the way the match began, with Luke Shaw scoring for Gareth Southgate’s England after just one minute and 57 seconds, the fastest goal ever in a European Championsh­ip final stunning a team who arrived here on a record 33-match unbeaten run.

Italy were shell-shocked and struggled to recover in a stadium where the official attendance was 67,173 but more England fans clearly managed to enter after disgracefu­l scenes when supporters without tickets stormed the gates.

Serious questions will be asked about security -- the game was also briefly held up by a pitch invader late on -- but English fans were obviously desperate to see their team finally win a major tournament for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.

Italy, though, had most of the possession after falling behind and ultimately deserved their equaliser when it came midway through the second half through Leonardo Bonucci.

With no further scoring, this was the first European Championsh­ip final to be

decided on penalties since 1976.

It is more penalty agony for England, whose list of previous shoot-out exits included losing to Italy at Euro 2012 as well as in the Euro 96 semi-finals against Germany when Southgate missed the crucial kick.

While their 55-year wait to win another major internatio­nal title goes on, Italy’s own particular half-century of hurt is over.

The Azzurri have won four World Cups but their sole European Championsh­ip triumph before this dated back to 1968.

They had lost two European Championsh­ip finals in little over two decades, with the agony of losing to France via a golden goal in Rotterdam in 2000 and then being torn apart by Spain in 2012, going down 4-0 in Kiev.

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 ??  ?? Italy players celebratin­g after winning EURO 2020 at the Wembley Stadium in London …on Sunday. Photo: AFP
Italy players celebratin­g after winning EURO 2020 at the Wembley Stadium in London …on Sunday. Photo: AFP

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