England's last defeat on penalties had been to
Italy in the quarter-final of the 2012 European Championship in Kyiv. Italy
won 4-2, following a goalless draw after extra time. Since then, they had
lost 7-6 to Spain in the 2013 Confederations Cup semi-final, beaten Uruguay
3-2 in the third place play-off and lost 6-5 to Germany in the Euro 2016
quarter-final in an epic shootout that ran to 18 kicks. Italy had twice been
in shootouts in World Cup Finals, losing in 1994 to Brazil, but beating
France in 2006. They had now reached the European Championship Final by beating Spain 4-2 on
penalties, just five nights earlier, at the same end of the same stadium.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan and Italy) aged 22.
Jordan Pickford (Everton
and England) aged
Donnarumma was making his 33rd appearance for
Italy. He had never saved a penalty in regulation time for his country, but
he had saved one out of six faced by Milan in the 2020-21 season, though
Lazio scored from the rebound. Another one of the six was shot wide as Milan
finished runners-up to city rivals, Internazionale in Serie A. However, he
also saved one to win a mammoth 24-kick Europa League play-off shootout 9-8 against Rio Ave
in Portugal, with another two hitting the post and one over the bar, and
Donnarumma himself firing one too high. Belgium's Lukaku had scored against
him in the quarter-final by side-footing straight down the middle as
Donnarumma dived to the left. In the semi-final shootout, he had saved one
kick with his left forearm, from Morata's weak effort, side-footed low to
the right. Spain's first kick, from Olmo, had gone over the bar, though
Donnarumma had dived the right way, and two kicks had beaten him. Moreno had
side-footed to the right, over Donnarumma's diving right hand, after a
slight stop in the run-up, and Thiago had sent Donnarumma the wrong way by
doing a little jump as he was about to side-foot it into the bottom left
Pickford was making his
38th appearance for England and it was his third shootout in just over three
years. He had saved one kick in each of the previous two shootouts. In the
2018 World Cup, Pickford had saved Colombia's fifth and last kick by diving
low, but blocking it with his up-stretched left hand. Against Switzerland, a
year later, Drmić
stuttered a little at the beginning of his run-up, before hitting it
with the side of his right foot, at medium height to the left, allowing
Pickford to make a full-length diving save, with both hands, to win the
shootout. Since then, he had faced four penalties for England, three of
which were converted and one hit over the bar. He had only faced three for
Everton during the 2020-21 season, with one missing, again over the bar.
Domenico Berardi (aged 26) - Sassuolo
17th appearance, 5 goals.
Top scorer for his club, and scored 22 goals for club and country in the
2020-21 season, seven of them penalties, including scoring two in one game.
One had been saved. He had never taken one for Italy and he had not
scored in the tournament.
Came on as a substitute in the 55th minute,
his third successive appearance from the bench, after being
substituted in three of the first four games, and missing the final
group game, against Wales.
Andrea Belotti (aged 27) - Torino
39th appearance, 12 goals.
Captain of Torino and top scorer for his
club, scored 16 goals for club and country in the 2020-21 season.
Five were from penalties, including one for Italy, and one kick was
saved, but he scored from the rebound. He also scored in a Coppa
Italia shootout against Milan which they lost.
Came on as a substitute at the beginning of
extra time, his fourth successive appearance from the bench, after
also joining the action for the last ten minutes of the first game,
against Turkey, and completing the full game against Wales.
Took Italy's second penalty against Spain,
and fired into the bottom left corner with his right foot, beyond
the goalkeeper's dive.
Leonardo Bonucci (aged 34) - Juventus
109th appearance, 8 goals.
Scored twice for Juventus in the 2020-21
season as they won the Coppa Italia, and Italy's equaliser in the
67th minute against England.
Side-footed over the bar with his right
foot with Italy's seventh and last penalty in a shootout against
Spain in the 2013 Confederations Cup semi-final. Three years later,
in the European Championship quarter-final against Germany, he
equalised with a penalty, side-footed into the bottom right corner,
after a slight feint with his right foot, but then missed Italy's
fifth kick of the shootout, when he did the same feint, but his
sidefoot to the left was saved by Neuer.
He did not take another penalty for Italy,
until the third kick of the Wembley shootout, against Spain, when he
side-footed low to the right, as the 'keeper went the other way.
Started all seven games, only being
substituted at half-time against Wales. Captain against Wales and
Federico Bernardeschi (aged 27) - Juventus
34th appearance, 6 goals.
Did not score at all for Juventus in the
2020-21 season as they won the Coppa Italia, but netted twice for
Italy in friendlies.
Came on in the 86th minute for his third
appearance as a substitute, after playing the first 75 minutes
against Wales, and then not playing again until the 107th minute of
Took Italy's fourth penalty against Spain,
side-footing with his left foot, high to the top right corner, over
the goalkeeper's dive.
Jorginho (aged 29) - Chelsea
35th appearance, 5 goals.
Won the Champions League with Chelsea and
scored eight goals during the 2020-21 season, plus one for Italy.
All nine were penalty kicks, though he also missed three. All of his
five for Italy were also from the spot. He had also beaten Jordan
Pickford with a penalty against Everton, four months earlier, but he
had previously missed in shootouts for Napoli (in the 2014
SuperCoppa Italia) and Chelsea (in the 2019 Carabao Cup FInal),
though he had scored for Chelsea in six separate shootouts.
Completed his sixth full game of the
tournament, including the three games at Wembley, all of which went
to extra time, and he only missed the last 15 minutes of the game
Took Italy's fifth and deciding penalty
against Spain to take them through to the final. He leapt up and
side-footed with his right foot into the right corner, with the
goalkeeper just going down on his right knee.
Harry Kane (aged 27) - Tottenham Hotspur
61st appearance, 38 goals.
Scored 39 goals for club and country in the
2020-21 season, seven of which were penalties.
He also scored Tottenham's fifth and last kick in a shootout victory
against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.
scored four goals in the last three games, the last of which came
after he missed his third penalty for England, having previously
scored ten, but he scored the winning goal from the rebound.
As well as winning the World Cup's Golden
Boot in 2018, he scored England's first penalty in the shootout
against Colombia when he fired into the bottom left corner, beyond
the goalkeeper's dive. He missed the shootout against Switzerland, a
year later, because he had been substituted.
Started all seven games in the tournament
as England's captain. Though substituted three times, he had
completed through extra time, the last two games.
In the semi-final, against Denmark, four
nights earlier in the same stadium, his penalty in the 104th minute,
was side-footed low, just to the right of centre, where Schmeichel
comfortably blocked it, but it fell straight back to Kane, who
slotted it into the opposite side with his right foot, as the
goalkeeper dived full length in vain.
Harry Maguire (aged 28) -
appearance, 4 goals.
Scored twice for Premier League runners-up,
Manchester United and three times for England in the 2020-21 season.
Stayed on the bench, recovering from an ankle injury whilst United
were losing the Europa League Final on penalties to Villarreal.
Scored England's first penalty, against
Switzerland, in the Nations League shootout, two years earlier,
when he fired to the right, at medium height, as the goalkeeper
dived to the left.
Completed each of the last five matches,
with extra time in the last two, after recovering from his ankle
injury, and scored against Ukraine in the quarter-final.
(aged 23) - Manchester United
appearance, 12 goals.
Scored 23 goals for club and country in the
2020-21 season, including three penalties, two of which were for
England. Manchester United finished as Premier League runners-up. He
also scored their fourth penalty in their Europa League Final
shootout against Villarreal which they lost.
Scored England's second penalty against
Colombia in the 2018 World Cup shootout, sidefooting hard and low
into the bottom left corner, beyond the goalkeeper's reach. He
stayed on the bench for the following year's shootout, against
Switzerland, but he had given England the lead with his first
international penalty, in the semi-final, against the Netherlands.
Came on as a substitute in the 120th
minute, his fourth appearance from the bench in the tournament, and
amounting to less than ninety minutes in total.
(aged 21) - Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
appearance, 3 goals.
Scored 17 goals for club and country in the
2020-21 season, three of them penalties, and netted twice in the
final as Borussia Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal.
Scored England's third penalty in the
shootout against Switzerland, two years earlier, when he
side-footed, at medium height, into the right-hand corner, and
although the 'keeper got a hand to it, it was hit too hard for him
to stop it.
Came on as a substitute in the 120th minute
for only his third appearance of the tournament, having played the
last ten minutes against the Czech Republic and completed the full
quarter-final against Ukraine.
(aged 19) - Arsenal
appearance, 1 goal.
Scored seven goals for Arsenal in the
2020-21 season, plus his first international goal, on the eve of the
tournament, against Austria.
He had been substituted before both of
Arsenal's penalty shootouts against Liverpool, in the FA Community
Shield and the Carabao Cup, and had never taken a penalty in senior
football, though he did score one for England in a losing shootout
against the Netherlands in the 2018 UEFA Under-17 Championship
semi-final at Chesterfield.
Came on as a substitute in the 70th minute,
after starting three of the previous four games, but being
substituted in each.
Luke Shaw's wonder goal in
the second minute put Italy's 33-game unbeaten run under threat, but
just as in successive semi-finals in 1996, 2018 and 2019, an early lead
wasn't enough to win the game. Italy re-grouped after 25 minutes. They
began to stifle their hosts and exert pressure, before forcing defensive
errors at a second-half corner where they equalised. As the game passed
into extra time, England managed to create some half-chances, but their
opponents always looked the more likely to score. Italy were unable to
break down England's defence again, however.
Shootout (Italy first)
1-0 Berardi side-footed into the
bottom left corner, with his left foot, sending Pickford the wrong way.
"It's a strong start, solid penalty" -
Jermaine Jenas (BBC1)
"Cool as you like from Berardi" -
Chris Sutton (Five Live)
Kane fired into the bottom left corner, with his right foot, beyond
"Never in doubt" - Jermaine Jenas
"Real conviction" - Chris Sutton (Five
side-footed, with his right foot, low to the right, where Pickford
pushed it away.
"He reads it brilliantly" - Chris
Sutton (Five Live)
1-2 Maguire blasted it into the
top right corner, with his right foot, as Donnarumma dived the other
"Absolutely smashes it, takes the camera
out!" - Jermaine Jenas (BBC1)
"In your life, have you seen a better
penalty than this?" - Lee Dixon (ITV)
"Three Donnarummas wouldn't have saved
that!" - Chris Sutton (Five Live)
Bonucci stopped for a split-second and then side-footed, with his right
foot, over Pickford's dive to the left.
"As soon as you lift it like that, the
'keeper's got no chance" - Lee Dixon (ITV)
ran wide to the left, ran up and then slowed right down, before
side-footing, with his right foot, and hitting the left-hand post as
Donnarumma moved the other way.
"Took a long time, didn't he, to take
that?" - Chris Sutton (Five Live)
3-2 Bernardeschi side-footed low,
with his left foot, straight down the middle, as Pickford dived to the
"Pickford goes early" - Chris Sutton
Sancho took only two steps, before side-footing, with his
right foot, at medium height, to the right, where Donnarumma got both
hands to it and pushed it away.
"Little stutter, wait for the 'keeper to
go, and Donnarumma didn't" - Lee Dixon (ITV)
"Sancho telegraphed that" - Chris
Sutton (Five Live)
Jorginho leapt up and side-footed with his
right foot towards the bottom left, where Pickford dived full length to
tip it onto the post and back into his arms.
"What a save! What a moment...the biggest
of his life!" - Jermaine Jenas (BBC1)
Saka ran up and down on the
spot, then ran up and side-footed, with his left foot, low to the right,
where Donnarumma pushed it to safety with both hands.
"He goes across Donnarumma, it's not going
right into the corner" - Chris Sutton (Five Live)
If Saka had
scored, who would have taken England's sixth penalty?
Since the beginning of the season, all of
England's practice penalty sessions had been logged by Gareth
Southgate's assistant, Steve Holland, and the order of takers on the
night was determined by Southgate, who also took into account the
relative successes of the players that had taken penalties for their
clubs, rather than primarily basing his selection on how the players
felt at the end of the game.
The one exception to this was that Jordan
Pickford, having impressed when taking a kick in the shootout against
Switzerland, two years earlier, was originally put in sixth place, only
for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish to be moved ahead of the goalkeeper when
he asked to be placed higher than his allocated eighth position (he was
also behind Kalvin Phillips). Grealish had missed his only penalty in a
regular game, against Sheffield United in 2019, when he hit the middle
of the crossbar, but earlier that year, he had scored in Villa's winning
Championship Play-Off semi-final shootout against West Bromwich Albion. The
25-year-old midfielder had scored seven goals in the 2020-21 season and
had yet to score for England. He had entered the field as a 99th-minute
substitute, his fourth such appearance during the tournament, in which
he had started only one game, against the Czech Republic.
It was a surprise to most that Raheem Sterling,
the scorer of three goals in the tournament, was only ninth in line to
take a penalty, as he had scored England's fourth kick against
Switzerland, two years earlier, he had scored a late penalty winner for
England in Iceland at the beginning of the season and he had even scored
the kick that won the Carabao Cup for Manchester City in 2019. Sterling
had missed his last four penalties for City, however, though he scored
from the rebound following one of them, whilst one was re-taken and then
saved again. Sterling had also not taken part in City's last shootout,
the FA Community Shield of 2019.
Mason Mount and Kieran Trippier were likely to
have been in contention to take kicks had they not been substituted,
whilst John Stones had previously scored in shootouts for Everton,
including a cheeky disguised lob into the corner against Juventus in the
2013 International Champions Cup in San Francisco, when he was 19 and
before his league debut for the club. Luke Shaw, meanwhile, had scored
for Manchester United in the recent Europa League Final shootout, as
well as giving England the lead in this final, with his first goal for
Why did England lose?
Initial criticism was laid at Southgate's feet,
firstly because it was felt that he had been too cautious during the
game. It must have been incredibly tempting, having got into a winning
position for the first time since 1966, for a number of players to be
wary of taking risks and try to settle for what they had, but it should
also be borne in mind that they were playing against the best team in
the tournament, unbeaten in almost three years, and with a strategy that
was well capable of overwhelming the opposition. England held them back,
just, and if they had taken a few chances to go for a late winner, they
might just as easily have opened themselves up to concede again.
Southgate's strategy had worked spectacularly up to then, so there was
no reason to doubt his approach for the final, having proved so many
people wrong as the tournament progressed, in terms of both tactics, and
individual player performances.
His plan to put Rashford and Sancho on as late
substitutes specifically so that they could take penalties was bold and
was also criticised. Sven-Göran Eriksson had also tried this approach to bring Jamie Carragher on
against Portugal at the end of the 2006 World Cup quarter-final.
Carragher initially scored, but the kick had been taken too quickly and
the retake was saved. The suggestion that the players were not as
prepared as those already on the field seems unlikely. Tiredness can be
as debilitating as rustiness, and players are often thrown into the
thick of the action in the modern game. We have seen a number of players
score with their first touch of the ball.
biggest brickbat to come Southgate's way was the fact that the three
youngest players left on the field were entrusted with England's last
three penalties. Saka, in particular, at 19, was extremely young to be
given a task that no other England international has ever been given,
that of having to score to keep his country in a major
international final. Firstly, it can be argued that players of that age
are rarely affected by the fear of failure. Every player in that England
team had already proved themselves good enough and experienced enough to
be part of that historic occasion, and by association, to be capable of
scoring from the penalty spot, when called upon. Saka was the most
prolific in practice. So confident was his manager, that he placed him
fifth in the list of penalty takers, with Harry Kane going first. At
that stage of a shootout, the kick is guaranteed to be decisive, so Saka
must have known what he would be facing.
Of course, you cannot reproduce the tension of
the big occasion in practice, but a familiar routine should give you a
better chance. We have seen many times, however, that the best kickers
have failed on the big occasion, and there is no guarantee that
Grealish, in Saka's place, would have found the net. He didn't miss
because of his age, but it may have been down to his experience.
It was always going to be an extremely tight
contest. Ten penalties were taken, and only half of them were scored. At
this stage of a major tournament, to succeed you have to relish the
occasion. Italy were far more used to this situation, even if each
individual player wasn't. The vastly experienced centre-back pairing of
Bonucci and captain, Chiellini had 221 appearances between them. They had seen
it all, and they both exuded confidence and a steely determination that
they would not be beaten, no matter what. As the spine of the team, this
is extremely infectious. England had to match that, and to be fair, they
almost did. Each player knew that it wasn't enough to get to the final,
they had to make the most of the opportunity.
If we consider that Pickford and Donnarumma
each made two saves, then it would leave us to conclude that Marcus
Rashford's kick was the difference between the teams. The Manchester
United man was extremely unlucky. Although only 22 years old, Gianluigi
Donnarumma was an intimidating character in a penalty shootout, not
least because of his height of six feet and five inches. That in itself,
would not make him an expert penalty stopper, but it seems to instill a
fear in penalty takers that leads to them feeling that they have to be
deadly accurate to beat him. As many kicks seem to hit the woodwork or
are blazed over the bar, as saved by him. So it was with Rashford. His
elaborate side-steps, followed by a slow approach left Donnarumma with
no clue as to which way the ball was going to go. The goalkeeper got it
wrong, but Rashford, in trying to be too precise, hit the post. It is
conceivable that if he had placed his kick, just a few inches to the
right, then England would be European Champions.
Just as Pirlo's kick in 2012 had swung that
shootout in Italy's favour, so Rashford's miss also did. Bernardeschi
seized the opportunity to put Italy in front again. If Rashford had
scored, at 3-2, there would have been more pressure on Bernardeschi to
keep Italy in it, and Sancho would possibly have been more confident
with his kick. Sancho's strategy, like Rashford's, was to confuse
Donnarumma with a short run-up, but the goalkeeper, this time, correctly
guessed which way the ball was going to go, and because of the short
run-up, Sancho didn't get enough power into it to beat him.
At that point, the chances of Jorginho not
repeating his shootout winner of five nights earlier, were extremely
remote, but Jordan Pickford pulled off an amazing reflex save to keep
England in it, heartbreakingly, for just 45 seconds. If England had won
the shootout, surely Pickford's save, at the very least, would rank
alongside Gordon Banks's 1970 save from Pelé
seemed to try to not give away his intentions, by running up and down on
the spot, but his eventual kick was weak and Donnarumma made a
comfortable save, and without even realising that it had won them the
title until he was engulfed by his celebrating team-mates.
In hindsight, always a wonderful thing,
England were lacking in experience when it came to the finishing line.
Intimidation and confidence were a major factor in deciding whose name
was inscribed on the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Italy had used it to great
effect against Spain, when they themselves were inferior on the night,
and they just had that tiny bit extra, plus a little luck when it came
to the final.
No blame should be laid at the feet of
any of the England squad or management. They took us to a level that
we'd only previously dreamed about. The silver polish was close enough
to smell, but we have to take heart from the fact that Italy have been
there many times. They have had their own share of agonising defeats at
the final hurdle, particularly in 1994 and 2000. Only these kinds of
experiences can prepare players and coaches to handle them the next time
that they come around and to make sure that the same mistakes are not
made. The rarified atmosphere of major international finals breeds a
special kind of footballer. England's young squad have now sampled that
atmosphere. As long as they can climb back up to the summit, they will
be better prepared and ready to adapt to whatever the game throws at