England had done the unthinkable by reaching their first European Championships final, but they failed to pass their final test by losing out to Italy in a penalty shoot-out.
Gareth Southgate’s side got off to the kind of start every English fan hoped for when Luke Shaw scored a brilliant goal after two minutes to give them a dream start.
However, it was a very familiar scenario that unfolded. It was just like when England had got the early goal against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final when Kieran Trippier had scored a free-kick in the first five minutes but they could not hold on to the lead.
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In the beginning of the second half against Italy on Sunday, England were poor all over the pitch and were not able to expand on their slender lead. Italy got their deserved equaliser through Leonardo Bonucci. Italy’s Federico Chiesa was the star man and was having a belter of game before his night was curtailed through injury.
Extra-time passed by without much of note and we headed to penalties. Both teams were under pressure and England had the advantage in the start after Jordan Pickford denied Andrea Belotti, but from there both Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missed their chances. All was not done when Jorginho was denied the decisive kick by Pickford but, in the end, young Bukayo Saka had his shot saved from Gianluigi Donnaurma and Italy were champions.
It can be debated all day why a 19-year-old was given the final kick, but on any given day even the best of players can have their penalties saved, and England came so close.