Italy win Euro 2020 final on penalties to wreck England party

By: AFP      Published: 03:12 AM, 12 Jul, 2021
Italy win Euro 2020 final on penalties to wreck England party

Italy wrecked England's Euro 2020 party at Wembley on Sunday, winning the final on penalties to plunge the host nation into despair and prolong their 55-year wait to win a major title.

Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties as following a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley.

Luke Shaw scored inside two minutes, the fastest ever goal in a European Championship final, but Leonardo Bonucci bundled in an equaliser at a corner midway through the second half.

Neither team could find a breakthrough in extra time, with this just the second European Championship final to be decided by penalties, after Czechoslovakia beat West Germany in a shoot-out in 1976.

England are attempting to win their first trophy since the 1966 World Cup, while Italy won their only European title in 1968.

Fans brave virus outbreak fears

British authorities warned of the dangers of large gatherings for Sunday's Euro 2020 football final, fearful of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant that is firing outbreaks across the world.

Many nations have been forced to reimpose curbs as they battle outbreaks accelerated by the variant, which was first detected in India

London hosted more than 60,000 fans at Wembley Stadium for the virus-delayed Euro 2020 final, the biggest crowd at a British football match since the start of the pandemic, as England take on Italy.

Authorities are particularly concerned about the risk of large numbers at fan zones and pubs to watch England's first appearance in a major football final in more than half a century.

But the fans do not appear to have been put off. Hundreds converged on Wembly many hours before kick-off, singing and swigging beer. Neil Houldsworth, 61, said: "If it gets busier I will wear a mask.

"Personally, there's no worry at all," he added, trusting in the high numbers of double-jabbed people.

Pensioner David Durant added: "Maybe I'm a bit double-jab happy. "It's better here in the open air to drink our beer. You're less likely to get it (Covid-19). "You try, but it is very difficult with a game like this to observe social distance."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signalled that remaining restrictions should be lifted in England on July 19, but infection rates are again surging -- driven by the Delta variant.

Many scientists are deeply uneasy with relaxing all remaining rules, including social distancing and mask-wearing.

As England's players departed their St George's Park base on Saturday, large numbers of cheering fans lined the road, hardly any seen wearing masks in video and photos tweeted by the team.

Health experts have expressed concerns about Euro 2020 events becoming super-spreaders throughout the tournament, especially in Britain and Russia because of the Delta variant.