The 2020 European Championship final is a game most England fans would like to forget, as the entire nation’s hopes of football coming home again were agonisingly dashed by Roberto Mancini’s dogged Italy at Wembley Stadium.
However, as the Three Lions gear up to face Gli Azzurri at the iconic London venue once again for a Euro 2024 qualifier on October 17, you can’t help but be reminded of the events that panned out on July 11, 2021.
This will be the fourth time these two sides have met since the Euro 2020 showpiece, with their Nations League encounters ending 0-0 and 1-0 in Italy’s favour in 2022, before Gareth Southgate’s side won 2-1 at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Napoli earlier this year.
The Three Lions are the heavy favourites to make it two wins on the bounce in the England v Italy odds when they clash with Gil Azzurri again this month. So, as the anticipation for that match begins to build, let’s take a look at the events that occurred in 2021.
There were chaotic scenes outside Wembley ahead of kick-off, with thousands of fans storming the stadium and causing serious disorder on Olympic Way that marred such a big event. The game went ahead as planned, however, and it wasn’t long before Luke Shaw fired England ahead.
The Manchester United left-back started and finished the early attack, latching onto Kieran Trippier’s looping cross and firing passed Gianluigi Donnarumma with a first-time effort just three minutes in, scoring the quickest goal in a European Championship final.
Italy had a few good chances of their own to get back on level terms in the first half, with Federico Chiesa pulling his driven effort just wide of the near post from the edge of the area, before Marco Verratti had a rather tame shot from 18 yards out easily saved by Jordan Pickford.
England had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee in the second half as the Three Lions felt Marcus Rashford had been pulled back when splitting through Italy’s experienced centre-back partnership of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
Gli Azzurri soon started adding the pressure as Roberto Mancini’s side desperately looked for an equaliser, and Pickford had to be equal to efforts from Lorenzo Insigne and Chiesa to keep England in front at Wembley.
After Manchester City defender John Stones had a headed chance tipped over the bar from Donnarumma, Italy went down the other end for a corner of their own and Bonucci scrambled the ball over the line after a bit of pinball in the area.
Dominico Berardi skied a chance for Italy to win it in the 73rd minute. He beat a charging Pickford to the over-the-top ball, but couldn’t keep his volley down and the game headed to extra-time.
Both sides were visibly tired in extra-time, but it was Italy who carried on mounting much of the pressure. There was nothing really in terms of clear-cut chances, however, and England’s worst nightmare became a reality as a penalty shootout lingered.
It looked like the Three Lions might break their penalty curse when Pickford saved the usually reliable Jorginho’s effort from 12 yards, but Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all failed to convert as Italy were crowned European champions for the second time.