LONDON: Italy inflicted heartbreak on England to win the Euro 2020 final after a penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, with pundits and ex-players praising the efforts of both teams.
Luke Shaw gave England an early lead and Leonardo Bonucci equalised in the second half but the game finished 1-1 after extra time and Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Bukayo Saka to secure a 3-2 shootout win and the title for Italy.
“The guys were extraordinary. I don’t have words for them, this is a magnificent group. There were no easy games and this one became very difficult, but then we dominated,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini told Sky TV.
“You need a bit of luck with penalties and I’m a little sorry for England. This team has grown so much, I think it can still improve. We are so happy for all,” he added.
Long-serving Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini capped a superb tournament with another display of both the skills and the dark arts of Italian defending.
“I’ve shed some tears. We deserved it, but at this age it we realise even more what it means to win a trophy like this. Since May we were saying that something magical was in the air, day after day it was more like that,” the 36-year-old told Sky TV.
England striker Harry Kane was devastated to have come so close.
“We got off to the perfect start, maybe dropped a little bit too deep. When you score that early it’s easy to try to soak up the pressure and try to hold on to that, and that’s probably what happened,” he told the BBC.
“They had a lot of the ball, they had a lot of possession, but to be fair we looked fairly in control, they didn’t create too many chances, and then obviously they got their breakthrough.”
Kane was quick to commiserate with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Saka, all of whom missed in the shootout.
“You’ve got to hold your heads up high. A fantastic tournament and these things can happen, a penalty shootout, you go through your process and you put it where you want to put it, but anyone can miss a penalty – we win together and we lose together,” added the England captain.
England manager Gareth Southgate praised his players, acknowledging they were upset to have come up short after taking an early lead.
“We are hugely disappointed of course, I think firstly the players have been an absolute credit, they have given everything they possibly could. Tonight exactly the same, they have run themselves into the ground,” he told the BBC.
“They cant have recriminations. They have been an absolute joy to work with, and they have gone further than we’ve gone for so long. But of course tonight it is incredibly painful in that dressing room,” he added.