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Euro Final: Italy and England's Journey

By Rediff Sports
July 09, 2021 09:07 IST
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England face Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday evening at the Wembley stadium.


IMAGE: Federico Chiesa celebrates after scoring in the semi-final against Spain. Photograph: Frank Augstein/Getty Images

Italy keep their nerve to reach the final

Spain looked the stronger of the two teams in the opening exchanges and took control of the midfield early on with Dani Olmo and Pedri looking especially dangerous operating between the lines.

However, Luis Enrique's decision to leave out striker Alvaro Morata meant that Spain found themselves time and again in good positions inside the final third only to be foiled by poor finishing.

It took almost half an hour for Italy to actually muster their first real attempt on goal when Emerson Palmieri smashed his shot against the post after a well-timed run.

Spain's tactics of pressing high up the pitch meant that Italy found it difficult to maintain possession and kept losing the ball in the central areas.

Onto the second half and the game finally came to life when Enrico Chiesa put Italy in the lead with a spectacular effort which arrived completely against the run of play. Picking up the ball at the edge of the box, the nimble footed Italian showed excellent technique to create a chance out of thin air -- beating his marker and unleashing a curling effort that smashed into the far corner of the goal. Italy in the lead.

Spain responded by bringing on Morata and were finally rewarded ten minutes from time off a blistering counter-attack move. Olmo played a defence-splitting through ball for Morata to run on to and the striker held his nerve to place the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

Extra-time and Spain came agonisingly close through Olmo and Morata. However, both teams were unable to find the winner, forcing the game to penalties.

In a tense shootout, both teams started off poorly -- Manuel Locatelli and Olmo missing for Italy and Spain respectively.

The crucial moment arrived when Morata's low placed shot was saved by Gianluigi Donnaruma, leaving Jorginho with the opportunity to win it for Italy with their fifth and final kick, which he did in spectacular fashion with the cheekiest of finishes to send Italy to the final.

Italy: Road to Final

Group A: Winners

Round of 16: 2-1 vs Austria

Quarter-final: 2-1 vs Belgium

Semi-final: 4-2 vs Spain


England prevail against Denmark


IMAGE: Harry Kane celebrates scoring from the rebound, after Denmark goal-keeper Kasper Schmeichel saves his penalty, for England's second goal. Photograph: Justin Tallis/Pool-Reuters

England arrived in Wembley in front of 60,000 screaming fans and took on a very spirited Denmark team who pressed high and looked to stay organised in defence and break-away quickly on the counter.

Remarkably, it was the Danes who opened scoring in the 25th minute when Mikkel Damsgaard scored the first direct free-kick of the tournament, a sublime effort that bended over the wall and dipped into the roof of the net -- the first goal conceded by England at Euro 2020.

England responded brilliantly and launched a flurry of attacks into the Danish penalty area. Goalkeeper Kasper Schemiechel pulled off a spectacular goal-line save to deny Rahem Sterling in the 32nd minute.

However the English onslaught persisted and the equaliser arrived soon after. Bukayo Saka redirecting Harry Kane's ball across goal for Simon Kjær to clear into his own net with Sterling breathing down his neck.

The goal invigorated England to push forward and Denmark found themselves on the defensive for lenghtly portions of the second half. Schmeichel was the busiest player on the pitch, denying England on several occasions.

Gareth Southgate introduced fresh faces but eventually it ended 1-1 at full-time.

Onto extra-time and Sterling grew in confidence and started actively taking on the Danes in and around the penalty area and the diminutive winger was finally rewarded when he was brought down inside the box.

Kane stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and despite the initial block by Schmeichel, blasted home the rebound to send England to their first major international final in 55 years.

England: Road to Final

Group D: Winners

Round of 16: 2-0 vs Germany

Quarter-final: 4-0 vs Ukraine

Semi-final: 2-1 vs Denmark

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