Euro 2020: Day 31
“They think it’s all over….. it is now” Honestly not sure what I can add around the game that the few of you that read this won’t have already seen. It wasn’t a classic by any stretch, but England enjoyed almost the perfect start against Italy before then spending the next 120 or so minutes trying to hold on to what they had got in many ways. The goal, coming inside the opening 3 minutes, was a superb piece of play, England breaking down the right, Kyle Walker providing an overlap allowing Trippier, back in the starting XI as England switched back to a back five, the time and space to pick out his fellow full-back Luke Shaw with a superb floated cross. The Manchester United left-back made no mistake, volleying home from close range to send the majority of a packed Wembley into euphoria.
That proved to be almost as good as it got for the hosts, looking for their first ever European Championship, as Italy then began to take control of possession and then the game as the first half wore on. The England defence, who had been so solid up to this point, did their best to try and keep Italy at bay, but the breakthrough eventually came after 67 minutes, Italy stalwart defender Leonardo Bonucci on hand to smash home after a rare defensive lapse saw England fail to clear their lines after a corner.
Both sides did have further chances, the best of those probably favouring Italy, while both sides were also liberal with the substitutions, initially looking to alter the game and then ultimately, in the case of England, preparing for the inevitability of a penalty shoot-out. And so it became that spot-kicks would decide the winner between these two sides.
There had to be a hero, and there had to be a villain, in the piece, and as Marcus Rashford, a man so honoured and praised for everything off the pitch this last year, saw his penalty hit the post there was an air of inevitability once more about it all. Pickford did his best, saving from Andrea Belotti and the normally reliable Jorginho, but his counterpart, Gianluigi Donnarumma denied both Jadon Sancho and then Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka as Italy once again claimed victory over England from the spot, the heartbreak clearly evident on the faces of several of the young England stars.
The defeat will be painful and raw, especially losing on penalties, something that has become a worrying part of the DNA of England in competition football, but once we look back we should be proud of what the squad achieved, a World Cup semi-final, backed up by a European Championship final. Maybe, just maybe, there is still time for this squad to get over the final hurdle in Qatar in less than 2 years time.Share this: