Did Italy really win this big soccer tournament because of penalties?
Just like a game seven in professional basketball or a showdown between the league’s best pitcher & hitter in the final inning of a baseball game, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating & electrifying in the sport of soccer than a shootout albeit due to penalties. It was a conclusion as fitting as ever for this epic match between Italy & England, a finale in which much of the world was glued to their televisions to witness.
Giving us millennials flashbacks to the ending of The Big Green or even D2: the Mighty Ducks, Italy versus England finished its already compelling game with perhaps the most proper as well as dramatic finish within the rules of the game – a shootout. The final result of this match of epic proportions was difficult to escape even for the most distant of soccer fans, as Italy’s victory flooded social media on every level.
However, even with Italy declared the victors, how much do we really buy into the caveat that they only won because of penalties? Asterisks in sports are never a fun association, especially when you come out of a hard-fought battle as champs. Nobody likes an excuse, and in this case, Italy. England may contend that Italy’s victory was due to too many penalties, but is that how we see it? Let’s delve into the match itself.
Italy defeats England
Italy claimed a first European Championship since 1968 after goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved twice in a 3-2 penalty shootout victory in the Euro 2020 Final against England, which took place at Wembley this Sunday. After a 1-1 draw over two hours, Donnarumma saved from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka; Marcus Rashford also missed by hitting a post with his kick to give Roberto Mancini’s team victory in London.
Andrea Belotti and Jorginho both saw their penalties saved by England’s Jordan Pickford, but Donnarumma’s stop from Saka decided the game to give Italy the long-awaited win. Italy manager Roberto Mancini had the following soliloquy regarding his team’s efforts:
“The guys were extraordinary. I don’t have words for them, 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.”
England was playing in a first major soccer final in fifty-five years since winning the 1966 World Cup. This was their latest heartache in shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. England star Harry Kane offered the following regarding his team’s efforts and devastating loss in the Final.
“We got off to the perfect start, maybe dropped a little bit too deep. When you score that early it’s easy to try to soak up the pressure and try to hold on to that, and that’s probably what happened,” Kane noted. “They had a lot of the ball, they had a lot of possession, but to be fair we looked fairly in control, they didn’t create too many chances, and then obviously they got their breakthrough.”
He then touched on his team’s shortcomings in the shootout: “You’ve got to hold your heads up high. A fantastic tournament and these things can happen, a penalty shootout, you go through your process and you put it where you want to put it, but anyone can miss a penalty; we win together and we lose together.”
What are your thoughts on Italy’s victory over England? Are you a big soccer fan? Did you ever play soccer going up? Do you even have any idea what we’re talking about? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.