Although the tournament appeared to be written for England to win their first continental crown at home, Italy changed the script and stormed the temple of English football 19 hours after Argentina desecrated the Brazilian cathedral.
The entire tournament script seemed set for England to win their first continental crown at home. Nobody wanted to miss a day with the scent of history, including the English fans who tried to sneak in at Wembley without tickets. Everything was looking good for the hosts when two minutes later they were already winning, after Shaw scored the fastest goal of all the Euro Cup finals. But the extra-time Eurocup (8 out of 15 possible) was not going to be decided in the first 90 minutes. And fate wanted that South Gate, who wanted to exorcise his missed penalty at the old Wembley Euro-96, suffered a Wembleyazo in the penalty shoot-out. In the same way that Messi and Argentina had stormed Maracana 19 hours earlier, Roberto Mancini and company took over the other great temple of world football.
Tom Cruise and David Beckham they were expecting a very different movie with a happy ending when they fists collided with Shaw’s early goal. From the box they watched Sterling make a movie trying to make a Redo of the great pool that decided the semifinal against Denmark. But second parts were never good. Not just for Sterling but for his team, whose legs were starting to shake in the second half. Italy took half an hour to reach the final but as Bonucci managed to knock down Pickford’s wall, the shadow of Wembleyazo began to project strongly.
But the vertigo began to appear in the last quarter of an hour of the regulation game, where the most interesting thing before extra time were the slaloms of a spontaneous, who faked the security agents with extreme art. Bonucci, who they mistook for a spontaneous trying to jump onto the pitch at the end of the game against Spain, must have felt identified.
As the overtime minutes fell, the specter of the fateful run at Euro-96 must have crossed not only Southgate’s mind but also that of many of the English fans.
Thinking about the eleven meters, the English coach put Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in the last minute of overtime. Southgate raised his fist as he saw how Kane and Maguire they put in the first two and he celebrated with passion the stop from Pickford to Belotti. But he should have cursed the decision to bring in Rashford and Sancho after seeing both miss their penalties. Italy gave him an extra life but Donnaruma stopped the last of Saka, lengthening Southgate’s penalty.
After the session, the English coach would put his head together with Sancho’s, surely telling him that he knew how he felt. His sadness contrasted with the euphoria of a Mancini hugging Donnaruma, tournament MVP. The Italian reconstruction man won the title with the azure that he had resisted as a player and the continental crown that in 1992 Wembley denied him by a torpedo from Ronald Koeman.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.