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Euro 2020: England left singing the same old song as Italy spoil ‘coming home’ party

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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.

England suffer penalty pain in Euro 2020 final defeat by ItalyWatch all of the penalty shootout between Italy and England in the final of Euro 2020Final loss incredibly painful – Gareth SouthgateEngland defeat will 'hurt for rest of careers' – Harry Kane

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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Comment posted by nik1976, today at 03:54nik1976

03:54We’re just double checking this comment.G

Comment posted by GeorgeScot, today at 03:54GeorgeScot

03:54Gareth Southgate – what a muppet.00F

Comment posted by Futbolmad, today at 03:53Futbolmad

03:53It’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.10S

Comment posted by Stephen, today at 03:51Stephen

03:51Choked against Croatia in the world Cup semi.. Choked against Italy last night.40T

Comment posted by TheBlaggert, today at 03:50TheBlaggert

03:50Hehehehe the most glorious thing to happen in 55 years. Thanks to Italy who fully deserved to beat the “world beaters”. I wonder how much of London got destroyed by the boo-boy embarrassment of fans60K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:54Kate G F

03:54to TheBlaggert"Hehehehe the most glorious thing to happen in 55 years. Thanks to Italy who fully deserved to beat the “world beaters”. I wonder how much of London got destroyed by the boo-boy embarrassment of fans"Kate G F replied: Italy deserves credit for putting England, its insufferable fans and their fawning media in place, but no more. Italian team also played a terrible, unattractive game. Where is flowing, creative football these days? All the players looked like they were getting root canal.00V

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Comment posted by ViralSyn, today at 03:50ViralSyn

03:50Can we please bin that crap song forever.50K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:55Kate G F

03:55to ViralSyn"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 ones00C

Comment posted by CarlosReel, today at 03:48CarlosReel

03:48The 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.70K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:51Kate G F

03:51to CarlosReel"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 OK30D

Comment posted by Duncan , today at 03:48Duncan

03:48Italy didn’t play within the rules of fair play, always fouling and looking for contact to get free kicks. They may have won but England are the people’s champions they did the nation proud. Let’s build on this for the World Cup the young team will gain the experience to improve.07O

Reply posted by ocso1979, today at 03:52ocso1979

03:52to Duncan "Italy didn’t play within the rules of fair play, always fouling and looking for contact to get free kicks. They may have won but England are the people’s champions they did the nation proud. Let’s build on this for the World Cup the young team will gain the experience to improve."ocso1979 replied: Lol thats very jars after the semi final mate.00More replies (1)downU

Comment posted by Un homme honnete, today at 03:45Un homme honnete

03:45Italy have well and truly earned this title. England deserve credit for a gritty run to the final but ultimately lacked the quality and experience. This England team has a lot potential. It’s been a brilliant tournament overall. Looking forward to the Premier League starting in a few weeks!01E

Comment posted by Eunesta, today at 03:44Eunesta

03:44They were beaten – be it penalties or not.. they were beaten. Whats the same old song? If they were the better team in any rendition of the “same old song” then statistically they would have won a major competition by now.30K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:50Kate G F

03:50to Eunesta"They were beaten – be it penalties or not.. they were beaten. Whats the same old song? If they were the better team in any rendition of the “same old song” then statistically they would have won a major competition by now."Kate G F replied: They got lucky to even be in the finals. This was a terrible UEFA cup. Too many games decided by penalties. England did not deserve to win but then again, most teams did not deserve to win. Not even Italy was impressive.20More replies (1)downB

Comment posted by BPM27, today at 03:42BPM27

03:422018 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.61O

Reply posted by ocso1979, today at 03:45ocso1979

03:45to BPM27"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.10More replies (1)downD

Comment posted by Diogenes, today at 03:39Diogenes

03:39They came. They saw. They conquered.30K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:48Kate G F

03:48to Diogenes"They came. They saw. They conquered."Kate G F replied: And once more, it did NOT come home.20T

Comment posted by Tommy 74, today at 03:38Tommy 74

03:38Justice was done. Denmark were robbed by dodgy penalty144K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:46Kate G F

03:46to Tommy 74"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.22Y

Comment posted by You, today at 03:36You

03:36Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas. Forza Italia.82K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:47Kate G F

03:47to You"Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas. Forza Italia."Kate G F replied: Indeed. I rooted for them after Berrettini got clobbered by Novak at W.
Not only, they were clearly more deserving10R

Comment posted by richard, today at 03:34richard

03:34We were not the better team. Yes we could have still nicked it on penalties but the wrong call was made. I said before the start of the tournament that experience wins tournaments. We had the youthful flair for the games when we were on to. But when you are struggling you need experience to dig yourself out.
I am sorry for the players who missed their penalties, but they were set up.42K

Reply posted by Kate G F, today at 03:49Kate G F

03:49to richard"We were not the better team. Yes we could have still nicked it on penalties but the wrong call was made. I said before the start of the tournament that experience wins tournaments. We had the youthful flair for the games when we were on to. But when you are struggling you need experience to dig yourself out.I am sorry for the players who missed their penalties, but they were set up."Kate G F replied: Southgate is somewhat mediocre. Grealish and Pickford are great, Kane is OK once in a while, so is Sterling, but overall, this is a middling squad01Back to topunknown
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