Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, while Marcus Rashford hit the post as Italy edged a penalty shoot-out dripping in tension to overcome England in the UEFA EURO 2020 final.
England had a dream start to their first ever EURO showpiece, Luke Shaw thumping in a fine goal inside two minutes to light up Wembley.
Yet Italy slowly found their feet and midway through the second half Leonardo Bonucci found the net.
On to extra time, and then penalties, where both goalkeepers saved two; history, though, belongs to Donnarumma the victor.
Match in brief
“It is important we make a good start,” Roberto Mancini had said on the eve of Italy’s fourth EURO final. What ensued was anything but. With less than two minutes on the clock, Harry Kane spread a pass out wide to surprise starter Kieran Trippier, and his delightful cross was met by a crisp left-footed half-volley from the stealthy Shaw. England rejoiced.
If the atmosphere was electric before, it was enough to power half of north London once the goal went in.
The Azzurri were shocked but showed their mettle as they regrouped, gained a foothold and started stringing passes together.
Only the final pass, the final shot let them down – not always by much, with the excellent Federico Chiesa whistling a shot just wide before the break.
The pressure was ratcheted up after half-time and eventually it told. Domenico Berardi’s corner caused all manner of problems, and though Jordan Pickford pushed Marco Verratti’s header onto the post, Bonucci was there to prod in. Italy came again and again.
But England held on. Into extra time we went, and then penalties, which seesawed back and forth.
Pickford denied Andrea Belotti and Jorginho; Rashford struck the post and Sancho, also introduced on 120 minutes, was denied by Donnarumma.
Saka, the youngest man on the pitch, could have taken it to sudden death, but Donnarumma guessed right and, once and for all, England’s unofficial anthem Sweet Caroline was silenced.
For a generation of Italy fans, the good times really have never seemed so good.
Star of the Match: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), “Such a strong defensive performance from the 34-year-old. Great distribution out from the back and the all-important equaliser.”