ENGLAND fans woke up with puffy eyes this morning after the Three Lions suffered a devastating penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The curse of penalties struck again as Gareth Southgate’s men suffered an agonising defeat to the Azzurri in the nail-biting showdown.
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Penalty shootout misses from Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho saw England fall at the last hurdle after an energetic, composed performance against the Italians.
Fans in the stadium and across the nation wept as Roberto Mancini’s men swarmed keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who palmed away Saka’s penalty to win it for the Azzurri .
Gaffer Gareth Southgate consoled Saka and Sancho, who looked crestfallen after the final whistle. Tearful fans in the stadium embraced – continuing to cheer on the players despite the defeat.
And Southgate put on a brave face after the heartbreaking loss, saying: “They’ve given everything.”
Pictures showed sobbing supporters drowning their sorrows in fanzones across the country after a day of high emotions and nervous anticipation.
Penalties returned to haunt England again at a major tournament – with the Three Lions winning just 3 of their last 11.
England had got off to a dream start after left back Luke Shaw fizzed a shot into the Italian goal in the second minute – the fastest ever goal in a Euros final.
Harry Kane picked out a pinpoint pass to Kieran Trippier to fire an inch perfect cross into the path of the Manchester United defender to blast home.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was hardly troubled in the first 45 minutes as the Italians struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
It comes as…
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- Celebs paid tribute to brave England stars after the Euros heartbreak
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But Mancini’s men came out brimming with energy in the second half, with centre-back Leonardo Bonucci poaching one back for Italy after a messy corner.
The Azzurri eventually took control of the game with the tricky Federico Chiesa fizzing a shot just wide.
The teams couldn’t be separated after 90 nail-biting minutes – sending the final into extra time.
But neither team was able to break the deadlock – with a penalty shootout looming.
The atmosphere in central London grew tense after Italy equalised.
Supporters watching the game at the Shakespeare’s Head pub near Piccadilly Circus had their eyes fixed on the television screen, with some visibly emotional and upset.
Many were standing up, at times holding their head in their hands.
Prince George was comforted by his dad who put his around his son’s shoulder.
And supporters in the Trafalgar Square fan zone who had cheered every block or defensive header from the Three Lions were likewise devastated as Bonucci’s equaliser struck the back of the net.
Tension had reached a fever pitch before kick-off as a giant replica Euros trophy was wheeled into the centre of the hallowed Wembley turf.
But the highlight of the tournament’s closing ceremony was a dramatic red, white and blue flypast by the Red Arrows.
Three quarters of the stadium was a sea of red and white as lionhearts packed the stadium, where capacity was reduced to 65,000 amid Covid restriction easing.
Smoke filled the air as flares were let off outside the stadium and in London’s Leicester Square with fans flooding the streets.
England fans last night expressed their pride after the Three Lions incredible run in the competition.
William, who was at the match with the Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George, urged the players to “hold your heads high”.
In a tweet from the KensingtonRoyal account, signed W, William congratulated the Italian football team on their win.
He wrote: “Heartbreaking. Congratulations @Azzurri on a great victory. @England, you’ve all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn’t our day.
“You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves – I know there’s more to come.”
Boris Johnson, who watched from the stands at Wembley, tweeted: “That was a heartbreaking result to end #Euro2020 but Gareth Southgate and his @England squad played like heroes.
“They have done the nation proud and deserve great credit.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sent his commiserations to a team that demonstrates “the very best of our country”.
He tweeted: “Heartbreaking. On and off the pitch, this team is the very best of our country.
“They’ve done us proud.”
After the match, riot police could be seen breaking through crowds outside Wembley Stadium as fans departed.
Beer bottles were thrown amid chants against Italy and the Metropolitan Police said there had been 45 arrests by officers policing the final.
The force said: “A number of officers remain on duty, helping fans leaving Wembley or central London. We are there to look out for your safety.”
A security breach ahead of the match saw a “small group” of people get into the stadium without tickets, prompting officials and police to work together in efforts to identify and remove them.
Elsewhere “gutted” fans said they remained proud of the team after the penalty defeat.
At the PaddyPark fans zone in Newcastle, Jake Shepherd, a 19-year-old project coordinator, said he was “gutted” but the tournament run “sets us for the World Cup – who says we cannot win it?”.
Student Jack Brown, 18, said: “I’m sad we lost but they have done so well.
“I’m proud of this team.”
An England fan in central London said even a loss is “something to drink to”.
Simon Brown, 36, from London, told PA that he believes England “has done well to get to the finals”.
Excitement simmering under the surface exploded as supporters came together to celebrate the success of the team.
After a bleak year that saw Euro 2020 delayed by 12 months, the Three Lions’ impressive run through the tournament gave the nation hope.
Flags flying from windows and chants of Football’s Coming Home echoed across England as fans proved they still believed after 55 years of hurt.
Many saw this tournament as Gareth Southgate’s redemption after his saved penalty saw England crash out of Euro 96.
The gaffer one-upped every Three Lions manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966 by guiding his team to a spot in the final of a major competition.
His hardworking squad have become national heroes after shunning pubs and parties for swimming pool inflatables and golf.
Southgate said "phenomenal" support at Wembley and across the nation had made a huge difference.
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