Fans go crazy in Rome as Italy defeat England to lift Euro 2020

Gianluigi Donnarumma won the player of the tournament award as he saved two penalties in the shootout to guide Italy to the Euro 2020 title at the Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday.

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world Italy was at the epicenter and suffered the maximum casualties due to coronavirus in Europe. This win of Italy in the Euro cup, seems to have brought the nation together after the crisis as a nation to rejoice and celebrate. A resilient Italy won the European Crown after edging past England in penalty shoot outs.

A total of 142 goals have been scored in the 16th edition of the Euro and millions of fans cheered as Christiano Ronaldo edged past Patrik Schick of Czech Republic to claim the top scorer of the tournament. While both strikers had 5 goals to their tally, Ronaldo’s assist count helped him claim the Golden Boot. The Portuguese skipper with a total of 14 goals is now the player with the most number of goals in the European Championship history. 

CR7 also equalled Iran legend Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals in the process. Milan and Italian superman keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was adjudged as the best goalkeeper of the tournament and earned him the Golden Ball while Barcelona’s Pedri at age 18 was declared as the Young Player of the Tournament Award. While each of the 24 teams that reached the finals received a participation fee of €9.25 million, the Champions took home the Trophy and 34 million Euros. Runner Up England was richer by 30.25 million.

England were handed a dream start when Manchester United’s left back Luke Shaw gave the hosts an early lead in the 2nd minute. The script had a perfect start for the three lions playing in front of more than sixty-seven thousand vociferous fans at the Wembley – the mecca of modern day football. Right wing back Kieran Trippier had an opportunity to cross from the edge of the Italian box and an overlapping and unmarked Shaw’s first time left footer sneaked into the Italian goal. The right full back to left full back combination had caught the Italian defense unaware and a helpless Gianluigi Donnarumma could do nothing but watch the ball going in the net.

This seemed to be the year for redemption for Gareth Southgate as he had taken the English side this far for the first time in Euro history. Southgate had chosen a five man defense line with three Central defenders- John Stones in the center, flanked by Manchester City’s Kyle Walker and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire. Full backs Trippier and Shaw were the lungs of this side and in the first few minutes it seemed that the night and the trophy belonged to England. The 5-2-3 formation aimed to plug the threat posed by the Italian midfield and a potent forward line.

The goal had woken up the Italian defense and certainly their captain Giorgio Chiellini who played the central defenders role in Roberto Mancini’s 4-3-3 formation. Juventus winger Federico Chiesa who is on loan from Fiorentina, was creating chances with shots from the central midfield position but the tenacity on the shots were rarely on target to bother Jordan Pickford at the English crossbar. Italy did not want to lose this one as the hurt of losing in the finals back in 2000 and 2012 were ghosts that had haunted them for too long.

The second half was a contrast to the first with England opting to sit back while Italians pressed hard in search of an equalizer. England seemed to rely on their defense line especially since they had conceded only once in this tournament by a brilliant Danish free kick from the 21-year-old Mikkel Damsgaard. Italians too had shifted their gear and had packed almost five to six players into the attacking third to create spaces and hunt for the chink in the English armour.

Italian resilience and prayers were answered when a 67th minute corner had Marco Verratti’s diving header admirably stopped by Pickford but only to find the predatory Leonardo Bonucci lurking on the top of the English goal line. The 34-year-old centre-back who serves both as Vice-Captain for Juventus and Italy, slotted the ball into the net for the Azzurris. In the 72nd minute, Bonucci came close to creating an opportunity for Domenico Berardi with a long ball from deep defense and the Sassuolo forward’s sublime run that outfoxed the offside trap was not matched by the acrobatic volley that ballooned hopelessly over the English crossbar.

After the 90-minute mark, the extra time failed to find a winner and Dutch referee Björn Kuiper signaled for the Penalty shoot out. It was the first final to be decided on penalties since Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in 1976.

Berardi opened the scoring for the Italians sending Everton keeper the wrong way but Harry Kane and Maguire were upto the task and slotted the ball easily past Donnarumma to give England a slender lead as Belotti was denied by a well anticipated dive from Pickford. England’s fate seemed to have deserted them as Bonucci and Rashford hit the ball wide of the upright. While Bernardeschi scored from the spot, Jadan Sancho was denied by the 6feet 5inch gigantic Gianluigi Donnarumma. Italians now led the penalties 3-2 and Chelsea’s defensive midfielder Jorginho stepped up to seal the deal for the Italians. Jordan Pickford rose to the challenge diving to his right, at full stretch parried the ball away and gave a lease of life to English hopes as Bukayo Saka had the opportunity to score and take England into Sudden Death. The 19 year old wonder boy from Arsenal could not beat the Italian giant and Donnarumma anticipated well diving to his left and turned all of the English revival hopes into ashes.

The fifty-two year long wait for Italy to win Europe’s biggest football prize ended yesterday as Roberto Mancini’s guerrieros breached the English defense and emerged Continental Champions for the first time since 1968. The Azzuris had won the European championship after defeating Yugoslavia 2-0 in a rematch of the finals at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. After the first Final ended in a 1-1 draw, the rematch was played 2 days later where Luigi Riva and Pietro Anastasi scored for the hosts.