The horns, fireworks and shouts of celebration reverberated the length and breadth of Italy, long into the night, as Italy secured the Euro 2020 championship after a nail-biting penalty shoot out. They are champions of Europe for the first time in 53 years.
This was Italy’ second European title, the first won back in 1968. Roberto Mancini’s side won 3-2 on penalties with Gianluigi Donnarumma saving two of England’s shots. The match, hosted at Wembley, finished 1-1 after extra time.
Champions of Europe
This morning, the Italian squad emerged from their plane, carrying the trophy and swathed in smiles.
However, two minutes into the match yesterday evening, and Italy were doing anything but smile.
It looked as if Italy were not going to win anything on Super Sunday, as Luke Shaw put England ahead with the quickest goal ever in a European Championship final.
Yet Italy slowly found their feet, while England failed to capitalise on their chances. They regrouped and started stringing passes together. Only the final shot let them down, though Federico Chiesa only narrowly missed before the break.
Whatever Mancini said to the Italian side at half-time worked. They came out attacking and kept possession. Midway through the second half Leonardo Bonucci found the net. Italy kept going forward, as England held on and Pickford made a couple of excellent saves.
On to extra time, and then penalties.
Both goalkeepers saved two; Pickford denied Andrea Belotti and Jorginho. Rashford struck the post. Donnarumma denied Sancho and Saka, the youngest man on the pitch.
“We did well,” Mancini told RAI Sport. “We conceded a goal straight away and struggled, but then we dominated the game.
“The lads were wonderful, I don’t know what more to say. It’s important for all the people and all the fans. I hope they’re celebrating [in Italy].”
The Star of the Match went to Leonardo Bonucci. Packie Bonner, UEFA Technical Observer and ex-Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, said, “Such a strong defensive performance from the 34-year-old. Great distribution out from the back and the all-important equaliser.”