*As Italy Overcomes England 3-2 on Penalty Shootout
Ernest Omoarelojie with Agency Reports.
Whether or not football is coming home to England or heading elsewhere has been a long drawn debate since Wednesday, when the Three Lions, England’s national football team, smacked Denmark 2-1 to book a place for Sunday’s final. As it were, their opponent became Italy hence the debate took a more definite focus-home or Rome.
But with the Azuris coming tops after a long and hard fought 120 minutes, comprising the initial 90-minute full time and an extra half an hour, Wembley went into a deafening silent mode as football chose to head to Rome.
That the Azuris had the last laugh via a 3-2 penalty shootout didn’t come unexpectedly even though it sealed England’s hope of ending more than half a century-long wait for a major trophy. The loss turned out to be the ultimate horror experience to English fans who went into delirium hoping for a dream evening from Shawn’s blistering volley but got deflated later and particularly the young English goal tender, Jordan Pickford who saved two penalties perhaps hoping that his team mates would rise to the occasion. But thanks to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, the table turned against the Three Lion as their three misses were all that was needed for Wembley to turn into a grave yard.
Saka’s shot proved the most decisive as it effectively sealed every hope against the English team.
The game began with the Italian team quickly making a move that earned them a corner within first 60 seconds. But it was Luke Shaw who made the first point raising hopes for the home team that football may have come home to stay since it left in 1966. His dream volley from a quick counter attack in the second minute left the Italian goal keeper stranded and the Wembley up in the stratosphere.
Shaw’s effort remained the difference between the two teams till the end of the first 45 minutes. However, the Italian began a gradual build-up from which it took control of the game. The effort paid off midway through the second half when Leonardo Bonucci stabbed in from a goal mouth scramble from a corner kick.
From the equalizing point, the English team had a teething challenge finding the rhythm from which it got its first goal. It was all it could do to extend the game through extra time into penalty shootout. Even then, a lethargy of some sort became very evident in the English players’ general demeanor.
In the end, the debate over where European football lives in the next few years was decided. For now, Rome is it.