Italy beat England in a penalty shootout to win their second European Football Championship final.
The two teams played 30 minutes of extra time after a 1-1 tie at the final Euro 2020 match in London where more than 60,000 fans were gathered.
A goal scored in the second minute by English left-back Luke Shaw put England ahead early on until Italy”s Leonardo Bonucci scored the equaliser in the 67th minute of the game.
Shaw’s goal was the fastest scored in a European Championship final, according to Uefa, and the fifth fastest scored in the tournament’s history.
But the Italians looked more confident in the second half of the match, putting pressure on England.
Tense atmosphere before final match
The atmosphere around Wembley stadium grew tense in the late afternoon on Sunday as the EURO 2020 final between Italy and England grew near.
The match kicked off at 21:00 CET in front of 60,000 fans —the vast majority there to support the Three Lions although a dedicated crowd of at least 1,000 Azzurri supporters will also be in the stands.
Tens of thousands of fans started gathering around Wembley in the morning but the atmosphere grew tense as the day unfolded.
Some England fans who appeared drunk threw projectiles including stones, beer cans, backpacks and traffic cones at passers-by.
Three Italian fans were also attacked by rampaging English supporters, an AFP reporter noted, as police were deployed in numbers around the stadium.
Most of the Italian fans with tickets to the final quickly made their way to the stadium and their seats.
Police in the British capital have urged people to refrain from going to Wembley unless they have a ticket and reported that some people in central London had been seen “jumping off street lamps or hoardings”, warning of the risk of injury.
Transport police also reported “multiple cases of flares being set off in the vicinity of railway stations” and stressed that “these incidents are offences and will be investigated.”
’90 minutes to enjoy ourselves’
Players spent the day training.
The Azzurri team arrived in London on Saturday to fine-tune their strategy on British soil.
Italy manager Roberto Mancini told reporters at a press conference later in the day that the team has “a tough game ahead.”
“We have these last 90 minutes to enjoy ourselves. We’ll try to do what we know we can do and what has got us to this point.
“England are a strong team. They have some brilliant players and a lot of depth. But the fact that we have reached this point means we’re a strong side too,” he added.
Team captain Giorgio Chiellini said players will need “a strong heart and a clear head”. “There will be moments when we need to be brave and others when we need to be flexible.”
“Light-heartedness and a little bit of madness have got us this far and we’ll need them tomorrow if we’re to win this cup,” he went on.
Southgate, meanwhile, flagged that “there are fantastic players all through the Italian team.”
“They have a good tactical plan, experienced coach and an amazing record over the last 30 games. We are very aware of that,” he went on, adding: “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
His team captain, Harry Kane, stressed players “started this tournament with an aim to win it, and we now have that chance to do that.”
“It’s just about staying calm and relaxed as you can and then just try to enjoy the moment when you’re out there.
“We have a real focus and determination in the group, and to knock down barriers in our country that have been there for a long time,” he also told reporters.
Both teams are being cheered by some well-known supporters with football fever reaching the British monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II penning a letter on Saturday to England manager Gareth Southgate and the team to express her “good wishes”.
“55 years ago I was fortunate to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant to the players, management and support staff to reach and win the final of a major international football tournament,” she wrote.
“I want to send my congratulations and that of my family to you all on reaching the final of the European Championships, and send my good wishes for tomorrow with the hopes that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves,” she added.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prime Minister, has also sent congratulatory words to the England side for their “amazing performance and achievement” in the EURO competition.
“You have forged a band of brothers whose energy and tenacity and teamwork — and sheer flair — seem to shine in everything you do.
“You have lifted the spirits of the whole country, and tomorrow we know that you can lift that trophy too.
“On behalf of the entire nation, good luck, have a great game — and bring it home,” he wrote.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, wished the Italian team good luck on Twitter, writing: “fingers crossed for tonight’s EURO 2020 final”, after being presented with a Italian jersey with her name on it.
Source: Euro News