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Euro 2020 soccer: Italy beats England in shootout, wins first final since 1968

Matteo Pessina (C) of Italy lifts the trophy alongside his teammates after winning the UEFA Euro 2020 final against England on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
Matteo Pessina (C) of Italy lifts the trophy alongside his teammates after winning the UEFA Euro 2020 final against England on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

July 11 (UPI) -- Italy captured its first European Championship since 1968 after beating England 3-2 in a penalty shootout during Sunday's Euro 2020 soccer final at Wembley Stadium in London.

With the teams locked in a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma stopped shots from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. England's Marcus Rashford also missed his spot kick by hitting the post, helping Italy claim the Euro title for the second time.

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"The guys were extraordinary. I don't have words for them," Italy boss Roberto Mancini said. "This is a magnificent group. There were no easy games and this one became very difficult, but then we dominated.

"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."

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England's Luke Shaw put his squad ahead 1-0 inside the opening two minutes when he beat Donnarumma with a left-footed shot inside the box. Just one minute and 57 seconds into the match, it was the fastest goal in a European Championship final.

But Italy, undefeated in 33 games ahead of Sunday's final, forced extra time when Leonardo Bonucci scored from close range in the 67th minute after a corner kick led to a wild scramble near the goal line.

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Domenico Berardi began the shootout by beating English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with a low shot. England's Harry Kane answered with a rocket shot to the same corner of the net, with the ball sailing past the outstretched arms of Donnarumma.

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After Pickford saved Andrea Belotti's kick, England went up 2-1 on penalties when Harry Maguire's high shot beat Donnarumma.

Bonucci equalized the shootout at 2-2 after sneaking the ball above Pickford. Rashford then hit the post on what appeared to be an easy chance after Donnarumma guessed incorrectly.

Federico Bernardeschi put the Italians in front 3-2 with a shot directly down the middle. Donnarumma then made a diving stop on Sancho's shot to keep his team ahead.

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Pickford stopped Jorginho's spot kick to keep the game alive, but England ultimately fell after Saka's final attempt was deflected away.

"The boys couldn't have given more," Kane said. "Penalties are the worst feeling in the world when you lose. It's been a fantastic tournament -- we should be proud, hold our heads up high. It's going to hurt now, it's going to hurt for a while."

England was playing in its first major final since winning the 1966 World Cup. Sunday's match was the team's latest heartbreaking loss in shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012.

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Italy's triumph in the Euro 2020 tournament -- which was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- adds to the country's previous Euro title in 1968 and its four World Cups.

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