Italy on Sunday sealed their second Euro triumph after beating England 3-2 in the final on penalties.
Italy won the European Championship for the first time since 1968. Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two England penalties and ended the encounter with a 3-2 shootout win after the teams had fought out a 1-1 extra-time draw at a raucous Wembley on Sunday.
The giant keeper saved from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after Marcus Rashford hit a post, as Federico Bernardeschi, Leonardo Bonucci and Domenico Berardi all scored for the Italians.
Luke Shaw had given England a dream start with a superb goal after two minutes but Italy, who offered almost nothing in response in the first half, gradually took command as the hosts sat back and levelled through Bonucci after 67 minutes.
It was the first final to be decided on penalties since Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in 1976 and will be wildly celebrated in Italy after they lost in the final in 2000 and 2012.
They made most of the running after halftime and in extra time and England can have few complaints after their early promise faded away.
It was nevertheless heartbreaking for most of the 67,000 Wembley crowd as England came up short in their first major final since they won the World Cup 55 years ago.
It had all started so well when Harry Kane spread the ball wide to Kieran Trippier and he instantly repaid coach Gareth Southgate’s faith in recalling him by sending over a curling deep cross that the fast-arriving Shaw met on the half volley to hammer inside the post for his first international goal.
England had taken an early lead in their 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia before eventually being outplayed and beaten in extra time, but they did not look like giving up the initiative on home soil, playing on the front foot, though failing to threaten Donnarumma.
England keeper Jordan Pickford was similarly untroubled as Federico Chiesa’s crisp shot went just wide and Ciro Immobile’s blocked effort were all Italy had to show for a disjointed half.
England’s well-drilled defence, which had conceded just one goal, via a Danish free kick, in their six previous tournament games, held them at arm’s length and Italian frustration was summed up by centre back Bonucci letting fly wildly from 35 metres with the last kick of the half – much to the disgust of his team mates.
Pickford was called into action after 57 minutes, blocking a Lorenzo Insigne shot and then getting down to palm away from Chiesa as Italy began to apply pressure, pinning England back.
It paid dividends when Bonucci pounced from close range after Pickford had turned Andrea Belotti’s header onto a post.
England could have no complaints, having virtually invited their opponents on and offered almost nothing in attack, and they would have been somewhat relieved to go into extra time.
It was a similar story in the first additional 15 minutes, though England did briefly force their way back into the game in the second period, albeit without either side creating anything to reward the crowd for their waves of noise.
So it went to penalties, where England’s young guns failed and Italy took the glory.
With the victory, Italy have won their sixth major tournament title (4 World Cup, 2 EUROs); among European nations, only Germany (7) have won more.
England have won just 22% (2/9) of their major tournament shootouts (World Cup/EUROs), the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.
-Additional report by Supersport
Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk confirmed
Anthony Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn has confirmed the British boxer’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua was outboxed and dethroned by Usyk at the Tottenham Stadium on Saturday night.
AJ could not withstand Usyk’s speed, movement and accuracy and the Ukrainian is now the new heavyweight champion.
Although the Nigerian-born boxer recorded some moments of success throughout the fight, they weren’t enough to give him victory.
The bell saved AJ from being knocked out as Usyk ultimately outclassed Joshua and had him out on his feet in the final round.
The Ukrainian boxer recorded 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 against Joshua to emerge a two-division king of the world.
Hearn told Sky sport that AJ has vowed to win the rematch which will certainly be his next fight: “I spoke to him [Joshua].
“It was a tough fight, gruelling fight, he’s not quite talking the way you’d expect him to talk at the moment.
“Devastated. Already talking about training again. They want to look at the eye socket, he says it’s fine.
“That was always the danger of the fight – you overthink the fight, you try and be too technical, you don’t use your attributes and you don’t make your mark early enough in the fight.
“AJ’s desire is still there.
“The fighter in AJ is already talking about, ‘I’ll win the rematch, I’ll win the rematch.’
“It was a tough defeat. Usyk was the deserved winner and he’s got to make changes in the rematch.
“He will want to go straight back into that rematch, he will be the underdog in the rematch this time after that tonight, but that’s what he does.
“He chose tonight to take on a pound-for-pound great. It didn’t work out, but he should get credit for that.
“He was beaten by the better man and congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk.”
John Owen Nwachukwu, Daily Post
Why Oleksandr Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua -Hearn, others
Boxing analysts and promoter have given an insight into why Oleksandr Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua in London on Saturday.
The PUNCH had reported that Usyk ended Joshua’s reign as world heavyweight champion with a stunning unanimous points decision victory on Saturday, scuppering hopes of a ‘Battle of Britain’ unification bout with fellow world title-holder Tyson Fury.
Joshua ended the 12th and final round of the contest backed up on the ropes, with the cheers of a crowd of more than 62,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium no match for the skills of his challenger.
The impressive Ukrainian triumphed 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 on the scorecards of the three judges in just the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion’s third bout as a heavyweight.
Reacting, boxing promoter, Eddie Hearn, said, “Usyk is very fit, he’s got great feet, he threw a lot of punches.
“He was probably a bit more aggressive than anticipated.
“It was a tough defeat. He got beat by the better man on the night.
Sodiq Oyeleke, Punch News
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