Rewind to: When Italy eliminated England via penalties in Euro 2012 quarterfinal

The Euro 2021 final saw a fierce contest between England and Italy. In front of a frenzied crowd of some 90,000 at Wembley, England and Italy put on the ultimate comic act. Luke Shaw’s goal in the second minute gave the home side a thrilling finish. But, Italy equalized in 67th Minute thanks to Leonardo Bonucci. The game went into extra time but both sides stood firm. In the end, it boiled down to penalties.

Jordan Pickford and Gianluigi Donnarumma had excellent saves, but it was Donnarumma who proved even better. Italy won the match 3–2 on penalties and England were disqualified. The Azzurri won the Euro tournament after a gap of 53 years, the longest in history. However, England’s wait for a major trophy was long overdue. Their victory was further boosted in a competitive match against Italy, having last won in 1978.

It was deja-vu for England in the penalty shootout against Italy. Nine years earlier, England had suffered a similar heartbreak against an Italian side that were at the top of their game.

Italy gave a similar blow to England in Euro 2012

Spain entered the Euro 2012 competition as the defending champions. Spain and Italy were in the same group with Croatia and the Republic of Ireland. Spain qualified from the group. Italy drew their first two matches against Spain and Croatia. But, in the game against the Republic of Ireland, they won 2–0 to advance to the next round.

On the other hand, England were also in a tough group with France, Sweden and Ukraine. The Three Lions drew their game against France and recorded wins against Ukraine and Sweden. Both Italy and England were set to face each other in the quarter-finals. It was a match that would be close-fought and emotional.

Italy dominated possession and had more shots on goal. However, England keeper Joe Hart kept the Italians at bay with a superb display. With the game ending 0–0 on regulation time, the match went into extra time. The impasse did not end there and the match went to penalties.

Azzurri get the better of the penalty shootout

Mario Balotelli was the first to come up and take the penalty. He was faced with his Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. Balotelli calmly threw the ball into the back of the net. Steven Gerrard came up and fired over Gianluigi Buffon from the penalty spot to keep the score 1–1. Ricardo Montolivo misses the penalty as his shot goes wide of the goalpost. England’s No. 10 Wayne Rooney calmly fired the ball backward to give England a 2–1 lead. However, the moment of the match came later.

With Italy trailing 1–2, he needed someone to calm his nerves. Andrea Pirlo was the right man for the job. He calmly slotted the penalty through Panenka, who was diving the ball down the middle when the goalkeeper somehow dived. Pirlo was in great person as he slotted the ball into the back of the net to level the score at 2-2. Ashley Young missed his chance as the ball hit the crossbar.

Antonio Nocerino gave Italy the advantage as his powerful strike gave Italy a 3–2 lead. Because of Buffon’s talent, Ashley Cole was denied the opportunity. Alessandro Diamanti then sealed the deal for Italy as they won 4–2 on penalties to progress to the semi-finals.

Italy was blown up by Spain

The Azzurri advanced to the final thanks to a 2–1 victory over Germany in the semi-finals. Spain defeated Portugal 4–2 on penalties to advance to the final. However, a clinical performance from a golden generation of Spanish footballers was put in as Spain beat Italy 0–4 to prolong their suffering. This made Spain the first and only defending champions of the Euros. At the time, it was Italy’s second defeat in the final, having previously lost to France in 2000 due to a golden goal by David Trezeguet.

For England, the wait for a major football trophy has now exceeded 20,000 days. Italy’s victory in 2021 has now given them their sixth world title and they are only behind Germany with seven. Italy will now be hoping for more redemption as they seek entry for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

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