Monday, July 12, 2021

YEP 11/7/21 Euro 2020 heartbreak for Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips and England as Italy win on penalties

Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips and England endured heartbreak with a Euro 2020 final penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Italy.

By Graham Smyth

Extra-time failed to separate the two teams as a tense final ended 1-1 at Wembley, before a dramatic, see-saw spot-kick competition went the way of the visitors.

England made the dream start, taking the lead after just two minutes with a lightning-quick counter attack and Luke Shaw's back post finish.

Gareth Southgate's change in formation was paying off handsomely in the first half, with space for Kieran Trippier down the right and Shaw on the opposite flank. Harry Kane's link-up play was instrumental in giving England a confident, competent start in possession and a foothold in the opposition half.

England looked comfortable in a first half that came and went without trouble for England keeper Jordan Pickford, only a Federico Chiesa shot from distance causing any consternation before it whistled past the post.

After the break it was a different matter as Italy grabbed control and England struggled to play on the front foot.

Pickford was needed early in the second half, Lorzeno Insigne dribbling to the byline and shooting from an acute angle, the Three Lions stopper beating it out. Chiesa came closer on the hour mark, a low drive from inside the area bringing a fine save from the Everton custodian.

England had a chance to double their lead when John Stones' header from a corner was tipped over the top by Gianluigi Donnarumma, before the Italians hit back with a set-piece of their own. A corner caused chaos in the area and although Pickford made an initial save, Leonardo Bonucci turned the ball home to level.

Domenico Berardi hooked a volley over the top when played through by Bonucci in a major let-off for England, who rallied a little, late on in the 90 minutes, but still struggled to regain any sense of control.

Extra-time was needed and it brought with it a chance for Phillips to grab glory, lining up a volley from a half-cleared corner and sending it just wide of goal.

John Stones came inches away from connecting with a dangerous cross as England had a much greater say in where the game was played, but the tightest of finals required a penalty shootout.

Berardi went first and sent Pickford the wrong way before Kane found the bottom corner to level. Andrea Belotti saw his effort saved by Pickford and Harry Maguire belted in England's second to give the hosts the advantage. But when Bonucci coolly clipped Italy's third over Pickford's dive and Marcus Rashford clipped the post, parity was restored.

Federico Bernardeschi went down the middle to put the pressure on Jadon Sancho and it proved too much, his shot palmed out by Donnarumma. But Pickford came to the rescue, foiling Jorginho to keep England's hopes alive. When Bukayo Saka was unable to find the net, however, Italy were champions.