In a tight game that ultimately went to penalties, Italy defeated England to win the 2020 European Championship.
After taking the lead in the second minute from a Luke Shaw strike, England sat back and defended. This is a strategy that worked for them the entire tournament, as the Three Lions had not conceded in the four games where they had scored first. It almost worked again in what would have been England’s first major trophy since 1966.
Unfortunately, as Spain had already figured out, parking the bus against the Italians is extremely difficult. (Park the bus was a phrase coined by Jose Mourinho which essentially means possessing the ball, defending with all your players, and not attacking). After having the lead for over an hour, the goal finally came.
Following a corner kick, the ball struck Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the post, and Leonardo Bonucci. Bonucci’s touch was the decisive one, putting Italy back in the game.
In extra time, Italy continued to press for a winner. Jordan Pickford produced some impressive moments, and England had some opportunities of their own (but were outshot 19 to six). The game moved to penalties.
There was some late controversy as Jorginho’s dangerous tackle on Jack Grealish was not given a red card, but with only seven minutes left it didn’t greatly affect the game. Jorginho missed his penalty, anyways.
Italy elected to take penalties first. This proved to be decisive, as every team that won in a shootout took penalties first at this year’s Euros (Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and then Italy again). England briefly had a lead after Andrea Belotti was denied by Jordan Pickford, but three consecutive English players missed. This includes two that Gareth Southgate had allegedly subbed on for their spot kick ability.
It has been a superb tournament for both teams, but Italy have been the stars of the tournament. Just three years after failing to qualify for the World Cup, the Azzurri are the champions of Europe.
Do you think they’ll be able to win the World Cup next year? Let me know in the comments!
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