London, July 12 (AP) Italian soccer’s redemption story is complete. England’s painful half-century wait for a major title goes on.
And it just had to be because of a penalty shootout.
Italy won the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on penalties on Sunday. The match finished 1-1 after extra time.
Gianluigi Donnarumma dived to his left and saved the decisive spot kick by Bukayo Saka, England’s third straight failure from the penalty spot in the shooutout in front of its own fans at Wembley Stadium.
It was less than four years ago that the Italians plunged to the lowest moment of its soccer history by failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. Now, they are the best team in Europe and on a national-record 34-match unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini, their suave coach.
England was playing in its first major final in 55 years. It’s the latest heartache in shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012.
England went ahead in the second minute when Luke Shaw scored the fastest goal in a European Championship final. Leonardo Bonucci equalized in the 67th.
Saka, a 19-year-old Londoner, was embraced by several England players after his miss. England coach Gareth Southgate hugged Jadon Sancho, who missed the previous England penalty, while Marcus Rashford — the other one to miss — walked off down the tunnel.
Sancho and Rashford had been brought on in the final minute of extra time, seemingly as specialist penalty takers.