By Josh Zealand
England’s Euro 2020 campaign came to a typically devastating end as they were beaten on penalties by Italy.
Their attempt to end the 55-year wait for a major trophy ended when Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved 19-year-old Bukayo Saka’s deciding penalty kick.
Anticipation, tension, and the usual gut-wrenching nerves all played their part to bring together this ultimate footballing occasion. England got off to the perfect start, and the long-awaited kick off time seemed all worth it when Luke Shaw gave them the lead after just two minutes.
Italy’s 33-match unbeaten run was not going to go away easily, and they proved that as they slowly edged their way back into the game. The moment came from a corner, Leonardo Bonucci scrambling to a loose ball and poking home after Jordan Pickford had pushed Marco Verratti’s header onto the post. That horrible but familiar sinking feeling was starting to dwell for England fans up and down the country.
With the game level, both teams played out a tense and goalless extra-time period, meaning the game would be decided by penalty kicks.
When Pickford saved Italy’s second penalty from Andrea Belotti, England had the advantage and looked destined to make history. However, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who had been brought on to take penalties, missed England’s next two.
And so, Chelsea’s Jorghino stepped up to win the tournament for Italy. Pickford miraculously saved his penalty, but it meant England still had to score their next. Nineteen-year-old Bukayo Saka saw his penalty saved, handing Italy another European Championship title.
A tearful Saka showed incredible heart and courage to step up to take that deciding penalty and was consoled by his team-mates on the pitch. In the stands, it was heartbreak and silence, as once again England fans’ hopes and dreams were smashed into a million pieces.
They can be proud of this incredible England team and the journey they went on to get to the final, beating Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark. This is only the beginning.
No one really cares about the Euros anyway, it’s the World Cup that matters…