Italy spoil England’s ‘coming home’ party

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July 13, 2021
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    Italy fans celebrate their win at WembleyItay fans celebrated as the rest of Wembley emptied after the full-time whistle

    Italy's celebrating supporters packed one end of a mostly deserted Wembley and turned England's anthem back on them as they sang "football's coming home".

    The irony would not have been lost on England's players, fans or manager Gareth Southgate as this was the joyous scene they had in mind at the start of a frantic, tension-packed night in an edgy Wembley atmosphere.

    This was the party England and their fans were planning but once again they were left pressing their noses up against the window, their aspirations wrecked by a heartbreaking loss to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

    England's despair was encapsulated by the sight of Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka waiting anxiously to take a penalty he had to score in the shootout. The nation was watching and it was down to a rookie 19-year-old to keep the dream alive.

    Saka, who deserves huge credit for stepping forward and for his fine Euro 2020 in general, saw the giant figure of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma keep out his spot-kick and it was all over for England. Again.

    It was not supposed to end like this.

    The chimes of Big Ben and the sight of the Red Arrows flashing overhead in the pre-match ceremony whipped Wembley into a frenzy – or even more of a frenzy.

    And when Luke Shaw capped a lightning England start with a goal after two minutes, the players and their fans were dreaming of ending a 55-year wait as Italy were pushed onto the back foot.

    Instead, on a nail-biting night, a familiar tale of disappointment and woe unfolded for the hosts, Italy first equalising through Leonardo Bonucci before the same old finale arrived in the shape of a 3-2 defeat on penalties.

    It all seemed a world away from what went before, when England fans besieged Wembley hours before kick-off, during which it must be noted that there were unsavoury scenes of supporters bursting their way through barriers to gain entry to the stadium, with 45 arrests also made.

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    This was English football's most important day for more than half a century. It felt like it in every fibre of Wembley.

    Once Big Ben had chimed its last and the Red Arrows had flown back to base, smoke hung heavy in the humid, steamy conditions after a pre-match display of pyrotechnics that gave the occasion the air of a rock concert.

    Thousands of fans had packed Wembley Way ahead of the gameThousands of fans had packed Wembley Way ahead of the game

    England fans unveiled a large banner emblazoned with the words "History In The Making" under dark and foreboding skies as a downpour hit Wembley, even the normally immaculate Italy manager Roberto Mancini accepting it was time for a waterproof jacket.

    And so to the highest point of England's night, Shaw's goal, which was greeted with such sound and fury by the home fans that the ground and its surrounds shook and bounced in celebration.

    Southgate's response was a low-key fist pump while Mancini threw his hands in the air lamenting how Italy, who went into this final on the back of a 33-match unbeaten run, could concede so cheaply.

    England pushed, Italy were cagey, and all the while Wembley was a tinderbox of emotions.

    The country had waited more than 20,000 days to finally claim that major crown and the opportunity to do it on home soil was almost overwhelming.

    This was a crowd waiting to rejoice, a nation waiting to celebrate, but Italy, streetwise and talented, set about putting Wembley on edge with possession and they did it successfully.

    England stalled, conceded territory. Wembley grew anxious and Italy, predictably, played on the nerves of a nation and all those in a stadium whose actual attendance will probably remain unknown given how many people without tickets found their way in.

    They demanded Jack Grealish, the new people's champion, and it was a surprise Southgate waited until the 99th minute to introduce a player who may have at least given those two teak-tough defensive enforcers Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini – combined age 70 – some worrying moments.

    England's supporters almost gave a groan of acceptance when Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers sounded the conclusion of extra time.

    They have seen this movie before. They know how it usually ends. And they were right.

    England's three substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Saka all missed, plenty of eyebrows raised as to how it fell to the latter, on the most pressurised night of his emerging football career, to suffer the same fate that befell Southgate himself in the Euro '96 semi-final here against Germany.

    Saka has come of age in this tournament. He will be an England player for years to come. He deserves no criticism or abuse for showing such courage – all of which will be no consolation to a very fine young man on this night.

    England lost impetus and Wembley's worries ran alongside each other. Somehow their convictions seemed to desert them, even Southgate himself seemingly reluctant to change the course of a game that ran Italy's way.

    As England's supporters gave Southgate and his players a measure of acclaim, deserved for their efforts at Euro 2020, the scale of the disappointment hit home to all.

    The wait goes on until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

    England went a step further than their defeat against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final in Moscow; progress of sorts but not enough to soothe this suffering.

    Southgate is overseeing genuine development in England's national side and no-one will forget the scenes of jubilation after Wembley wins against Germany and in the semi-final against Denmark.

    This was meant to be the night football, as the chorus goes, came home. Instead England were left singing the same old song.

    Italy were deserved Euro 2020 winners. The best team won this tournament.

    England and Southgate must lift themselves again and start counting the days until they can have another crack at ending the talk of years of hurt, of no trophies since 1966.

    On this night, however, after so much fevered build-up and belief that this was the night England finally won that elusive silverware, there was once again only the crushing pain of another defeat.

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    7302 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • C

      Comment posted by CarlosReel, at 03:48 12 Jul

      The media (and some fans) acted like we won before the final. Filming open training sessions, in depth interviews with Southgate etc. It happens every time England do well.

      Italy deserved it. It’s annoying we didnt press further for a 2nd goal and to be honest we never looked like scoring a 2nd until extra time which is shameful. Still find it odd how Rashford waited so long to take his pen.97063

      • K

        Reply posted by Kate G F, at 03:51 12 Jul

        "The media (and some fans) acted like we won before the final. Filming open training sessions, in depth interviews with Southgate etc. It happens every time England do well.Italy deserved it. It’s annoying we didnt press further for a 2nd goal and to be honest we never looked like scoring a 2nd until extra time which is shameful. Still find it odd how Rashford waited so long to take his pen."Kate G F replied: English media has no self control and too much bias and excessive hubris. Other than that, they are OK54236

      More replies (109)

    • J

      Comment posted by jock tamson, at 06:42 12 Jul

      Yes, I go on the wind up, I’m Scottish.

      England were pretty good to be fair.

      But the agenda to pinpoint Rashford, Sancho and Saka is from an ulterior motive and a despicable perspective.

      In a few days it’ll be “why didn’t Sterling step up?”

      I was pretty useless as a player, but I was taught… You win as a team and you lose as a team.

      Respect to those who had the courage to stand up.81224

      • J

        Reply posted by Julio Laker, at 08:43 12 Jul

        "Yes, I go on the wind up, I’m Scottish.England were pretty good to be fair.But the agenda to pinpoint Rashford, Sancho and Saka is from an ulterior motive and a despicable perspective.In a few days it’ll be “why didn’t Sterling step up?”I was pretty useless as a player, but I was taught… You win as a team and you lose as a team.Respect to those who had the courage to stand up."Julio Laker replied: Also Scottish. Southgate gets more criticism from his own fans than he does from opposition fans. Although he’s a bit dull and uninspiring he conducts himself admirably, as do his players. They are young, they will bounce back, they have done well and should be applauded for getting this far not abused. Maybe in time Southgate and his players conduct will rub off on the fans. Pundits go home!46518

      More replies (56)

    • B

      Comment posted by BPM27, at 03:42 12 Jul

      2018 WC semi-final. One shot on target.
      2020 Euro final. One shot on target.

      Those deluding themselves into thinking that Qatar somehow promises World Cup glory for England are going to be sadly mistaken. These past two tournaments have been incredibly soft paths for the Three Lions.

      The success of this Euro will likely extend the reign of a manger who, while a good bloke, is over his head.926202

      • O

        Reply posted by ocso1979, at 03:45 12 Jul

        "2018 WC semi-final. One shot on target.2020 Euro final. One shot on target.Those deluding themselves into thinking that Qatar somehow promises World Cup glory for England are going to be sadly mistaken. These past two tournaments have been incredibly soft paths for the Three Lions.The success of this Euro will likely extend the reign of a manger who, while a good bloke, is over his head."ocso1979 replied: Totally agree, people has carried away here. Also I cannot see an easy path ever again we werenlucky in the WC an now in the Euro as well.32447

      More replies (82)

    • S

      Comment posted by Steven, at 05:27 12 Jul

      That was the best opportunity we have had of winning a major event in a very long time. It was almost gifted to us. Our players hardly travelled at all, when other teams flew and stayed in hotels. We played at Wembley for all but one game. Even if the Euros had taken place in just England, the other teams would have been as rested as we were. Will not be that easy again. We were poor 75% of match.75335

      • T

        Reply posted by topo, at 06:24 12 Jul

        "That was the best opportunity we have had of winning a major event in a very long time. It was almost gifted to us. Our players hardly travelled at all, when other teams flew and stayed in hotels. We played at Wembley for all but one game. Even if the Euros had taken place in just England, the other teams would have been as rested as we were. Will not be that easy again. We were poor 75% of match."topo replied: Hard to argue with that. Still feel for them though, didn’t perform on the day though they were up against a more experienced side, so not entirely in their hands. Do our ‘supporters’ deserve better after their behaviour though? No – may be a minority of thugs but it’s quite a large minority. Who are amazingly already up and posting poison here! Sad….28514

      More replies (34)

    • S

      Comment posted by SteveMonkey, at 05:24 12 Jul

      Unfortunately it was the same as with the World Cup semi. England get the early goal then sit back and allow the other team to play. We slowly lose the momentum. Substitutes never come, lack of tactical awareness, chasing the ball, tired legs, the opponents grab an equaliser, after that there was only one winner.

      Very proud of them all, but I thought we had learned from the Croatia semi?6046

      • R

        Reply posted by Ritchie2, at 05:32 12 Jul

        "Unfortunately it was the same as with the World Cup semi. England get the early goal then sit back and allow the other team to play. We slowly lose the momentum. Substitutes never come, lack of tactical awareness, chasing the ball, tired legs, the opponents grab an equaliser, after that there was only one winner. Very proud of them all, but I thought we had learned from the Croatia semi?"Ritchie2 replied: Great goal from Shaw, arguably one of the best strikes in the tournament. But as often happens in big games, scoring ‘too soon’ doesn’t always help you.13351

      More replies (39)

    • V

      Comment posted by ViralSyn, at 03:50 12 Jul

      Can we please bin that crap song forever.64273

      • K

        Reply posted by Kate G F, at 03:55 12 Jul

        "Can we please bin that crap song forever."Kate G F replied: And that junk slogan “it is coming home”
        Nike comes up with better ones32760

      More replies (59)

    • K

      Comment posted by KingCantona7, at 04:52 12 Jul

      How can Rashford and Sancho score ratings of 3.3, they each had one kick and missed a penalty. During the game Saka looked overawed by the occassion, surely the wrong choice for a penalty of that magnitude and so it turned out. Southgate is a lucky manager rather than a good one50564

      • G

        Reply posted by Guinea pig, at 05:00 12 Jul

        "How can Rashford and Sancho score ratings of 3.3, they each had one kick and missed a penalty. During the game Saka looked overawed by the occassion, surely the wrong choice for a penalty of that magnitude and so it turned out. Southgate is a lucky manager rather than a good one"Guinea pig replied: They should never have got to penalties. A virtual goal start and they just sat back. It was that boring I went bed at 90 mins. Just saw the pathetic penalties which were a disgrace.26085

      More replies (36)

    • G

      Comment posted by Gabbagod, at 04:35 12 Jul

      The minority of fans deserved nothing after booing national anthems, shining lasers, storming the stadiums, their racial badgering and their over confidence. Football won tonight.44858

      • T

        Reply posted by topo, at 06:15 12 Jul

        "The minority of fans deserved nothing after booing national anthems, shining lasers, storming the stadiums, their racial badgering and their over confidence. Football won tonight."topo replied: Agree with your comments except for ‘football won’, because the Italian team were better certainly but hardly playing exciting football, but they’re experienced with a little flair and capable of grinding out results. Maybe with more experience our new ‘golden generation’ will improve but some Neanderthal ‘supporters’ will never change…17040

      More replies (40)

    • S

      Comment posted by squarewindow, at 04:20 12 Jul

      At least Roy Hodgson had the decency not to get people’s hopes up!34114

      • T

        Reply posted by THE CLUDGIE 77, at 05:13 12 Jul

        "At least Roy Hodgson had the decency not to get people’s hopes up!"THE CLUDGIE 77 replied: 😂😂😂😂652

      More replies (12)

    • T

      Comment posted by Tim brown, at 05:33 12 Jul

      Let me guess. “We’ll learn from this!” will be the deluded refrain from all the b/s heavy, overpaid pundits. Pulling up the drawbridge after 20 minutes was never going to work, and we got what we deserved32811

      • K

        Reply posted by KLOPP OUT, at 10:20 12 Jul

        "Let me guess. “We’ll learn from this!” will be the deluded refrain from all the b/s heavy, overpaid pundits. Pulling up the drawbridge after 20 minutes was never going to work, and we got what we deserved"KLOPP OUT replied: I spent the whole tournament telling you we hadn’t beaten a decent side. And that Italy would squash us like a bug.

        If only you listened to me. 🤷73126

      More replies (18)

    • V

      Comment posted by V5hal, at 04:45 12 Jul

      when your history on penalty is bad, you dont sleep for 120 mins and wait for it2973

      • J

        Reply posted by jon, at 10:50 12 Jul

        "when your history on penalty is bad, you dont sleep for 120 mins and wait for it"jon replied: A wonderful team that took us to the final and knocked out Germany. Italian experience outplayed English youth but our entire squad lifted the spirit of the nation over the last few weeks. England will be one of the favourites in Qatar which is only 16 months away. Sir Gareth arise and take our fine young lions to the world cup.62208

      More replies (22)

    • W

      Comment posted by Will, at 08:05 12 Jul

      I wish we could use this chance to collectively control our emotions, offer congratulations to deserving champions and conduct ourselves as a nation like I was taught we used to. Joy in victory, grace in defeat. Instead it’s the usual round of finger pointing, counterfactualism and shameful racist abuse of three lads who showed unbelievable character to step up in front of the nation. Today sucks.27511

      • S

        Reply posted by Specialist_in_tailoring, at 08:33 12 Jul

        "I wish we could use this chance to collectively control our emotions, offer congratulations to deserving champions and conduct ourselves as a nation like I was taught we used to. Joy in victory, grace in defeat. Instead it’s the usual round of finger pointing, counterfactualism and shameful racist abuse of three lads who showed unbelievable character to step up in front of the nation. Today sucks."Specialist_in_tailoring replied: Hear hear!!505

      More replies (12)

    • P

      Comment posted by ProudCornishMan, at 04:56 12 Jul

      If we won Euro 2020 there was talk of another bank holiday & even possible knighthood of Southgate, OTT to endth degree.

      I hope this is a milestone to future glories for England, & i am glad this tournament has brought joy to many, but please we have to keep things in perspective.

      Pity it came down to penalties but those are the rules so
      congrats to the Italians.

      Next stop the world cup26416

      • J

        Reply posted by Johnny Todd, at 05:03 12 Jul

        "If we won Euro 2020 there was talk of another bank holiday & even possible knighthood of Southgate, OTT to endth degree.I hope this is a milestone to future glories for England, & i am glad this tournament has brought joy to many, but please we have to keep things in perspective.Pity it came down to penalties but those are the rules socongrats to the Italians. Next stop the world cup"Johnny Todd replied: Next stop Premiership. Get the proper shirts back on and mothball the England ones78136

      More replies (17)

    • S

      Comment posted by Stephen, at 03:51 12 Jul

      Choked against Croatia in the world Cup semi.. Choked against Italy last night.25765

      • L

        Reply posted by Lets Agree To Disagree, at 04:25 12 Jul

        "Choked against Croatia in the world Cup semi.. Choked against Italy last night."Lets Agree To Disagree replied: When the main showdown comes, Southgate’s tactics are just not good enough. He goes into a shell and the team becomes timid and weak.
        Until he learns how to grab opportunities by the throat, he will keep failing.43122

      More replies (29)

    • S

      Comment posted by SteveMonkey, at 06:24 12 Jul

      The ‘Football’s Coming Home’ song was s reference to the fact that England (Who are the founding architects of modern Association Football) were staging Euro 96.

      The game was returning to its roots, like golf going to St Andrews or the Olympics returning to Athens.

      Unfortunately it’s become arrogantly twisted as if ‘The Trophy is Coming Home’.

      As Schmeichel pointed out, we’ve never won it!!1757

      • R

        Reply posted by Ritchie2, at 06:31 12 Jul

        "The ‘Football’s Coming Home’ song was s reference to the fact that England (Who are the founding architects of modern Association Football) were staging Euro 96. The game was returning to its roots, like golf going to St Andrews or the Olympics returning to Athens.Unfortunately it’s become arrogantly twisted as if ‘The Trophy is Coming Home’.As Schmeichel pointed out, we’ve never won it!!"Ritchie2 replied: Self deprecating song the the rest of the world simply don’t understand. The entire song laments and points fun at the failure, and living with that failure over many many years. Always will be a terrace classic and has been picked up by many other nations over the years.8916

      More replies (16)

    • T

      Comment posted by Thou, at 04:02 12 Jul

      When will they ever learn that being plucky and brave doesn’t win football games.

      Skill and ability win football games and eventually England always meet a side with more of it.19628

      • J

        Reply posted by Johnny Todd, at 04:06 12 Jul

        "When will they ever learn that being plucky and brave doesn’t win football games. Skill and ability win football games and eventually England always meet a side with more of it."Johnny Todd replied: Or a manager with less of it.9334

      More replies (23)

    • B

      Comment posted by bishbosh77, at 04:33 12 Jul

      Typical of idiots on here slating the team after the penalty misses. If we’d have won then you all would have said it was genius of Southgate and the team but no you insist on slating them and creating another squad fearful of failure because of pathetic reactions. You should be ashamed of yourselves. England should be proud to have achieved runners up. These young lions have a bright future287124

      • J

        Reply posted by Johnny Todd, at 04:39 12 Jul

        "Typical of idiots on here slating the team after the penalty misses. If we’d have won then you all would have said it was genius of Southgate and the team but no you insist on slating them and creating another squad fearful of failure because of pathetic reactions. You should be ashamed of yourselves. England should be proud to have achieved runners up. These young lions have a bright future"Johnny Todd replied: Not with Southgate as manager.195129

      More replies (42)

    • N

      Comment posted by Noisy Neighbour, at 05:19 12 Jul

      You deserve what you get in this life. And England certainly got that. The Arrogance and self-entitlement is rife. Feel for the 3 young lads last night, but the fans at the games and outside of the games have disgraced this already disgraced land. Having Johnson and his cronies attend the games further enhances the view that the game is tinkered with division and diversion..315162

      • S

        Reply posted by Shroomie, at 06:27 12 Jul

        "You deserve what you get in this life. And England certainly got that. The Arrogance and self-entitlement is rife. Feel for the 3 young lads last night, but the fans at the games and outside of the games have disgraced this already disgraced land. Having Johnson and his cronies attend the games further enhances the view that the game is tinkered with division and diversion.."Shroomie replied: England support their team no more no less than any other side; those with hostile emotions towards England use the term ‘arrogance’ to justify their hostility.200170

      More replies (44)

    • T

      Comment posted by Tommy 74, at 03:38 12 Jul

      Justice was done. Denmark were robbed by dodgy penalty444296

      • K

        Reply posted by Kate G F, at 03:46 12 Jul

        "Justice was done. Denmark were robbed by dodgy penalty"Kate G F replied: Yeah, this English side should never have been in the final. Reality is that this side is probably the 7th best squad in UEFA.196245

      More replies (58)

    • F

      Comment posted by Futbolmad, at 03:53 12 Jul

      It’s somewhat baffling to talk in terms of such sadness when in reality the writing was on the wall. There was little surprise in a vastly superior Italy beating a brave England. The only surprise if any, was England not losing by a bigger margin.21174

      • K

        Reply posted by Kate G F, at 04:03 12 Jul

        "It’s somewhat baffling to talk in terms of such sadness when in reality the writing was on the wall. There was little surprise in a vastly superior Italy beating a brave England. The only surprise if any, was England not losing by a bigger margin."Kate G F replied: I feel for the fans although I did not root for England. Having invested so much emotion in this, they deserved something more. Once again, they were let down and left inconsolable2380

      More replies (47)

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