Salem Radio Network News Friday, July 30, 2021

Sports

Soccer-Italian joy, English heartbreak after Euro final penalties drama

LONDON (Reuters) – Italy inflicted heartbreak on England to win the Euro 2020 final after a penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, with pundits and ex-players praising the efforts of both teams.

Luke Shaw gave England an early lead and Leonardo Bonucci equalised in the second half but the game finished 1-1 after extra time and Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Bukayo Saka to secure a 3-2 shootout win and the title for Italy. [L8N2ON0OD]

“The guys were extraordinary. I don’t have words for them, this is a magnificent group. There were no easy games and this one became very difficult, but then we dominated,” Italy boss Roberto Mancini told Sky TV.

“You need a bit of luck with penalties and I’m a little sorry for England. This team has grown so much, I think it can still improve. We are so happy for all,” he added.

England striker Harry Kane was devastated to have come so close, only to come up short in front of the home fans.

“We got off to the perfect start, maybe dropped a little bit too deep. When you score that early it’s easy to try to soak up the pressure and try to hold on to that, and that’s probably what happened,” he told the BBC.

“They had a lot of the ball, they had a lot of possession, but to be fair we looked fairly in control, they didn’t create too many chances, and then obviously they got their breakthrough.”

Kane was quick to commiserate with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Saka, all of whom missed in the shootout.

“You’ve got to hold your heads up high. A fantastic tournament and these things can happen, a penalty shootout, you go through your process and you put it where you want to put it, but anyone can miss a penalty – we win together and we lose together,” added the England captain.

UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT

Former Italy fullback Gianluca Zambrotta was gleeful.

“An unforgettable night for our Azzurri! What a fantastic achievement for Roberto Mancini and his team. They deserved to win this second Euro title, and their performance from the opening game in Rome one month ago has been perfect!” he said.

Ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand, who played 81 times for his country, thanked Gareth Southgate’s side for their efforts.

“Obviously, huge disappointment. But as you can see, the fans clapping the players. They have brought us a joy, that definitely my generation and below have never felt watching an England team,” he said.

“They lifted the country up when we needed it. It’s a harsh, harsh game when it gets to this stage. It’s a painful way to lose it… Italy will enjoy it and credit to them.”

Former England striker Alan Shearer also felt sorry for Southgate’s squad.

“Football is a cruel, cruel game at times. Those boys have performed heroically for a month, such a shame that it has to come down to a situation like this,” he said.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ken Ferris)

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