Friday, July 9, 2021

European Championship

England will face Italy in the Euro final on Sunday after Tottenham Hotspur and England captain Harry Kane scored on the rebound of his failed penalty kick in extra time to defeat Denmark 2-1 in their semi-final matchup. Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling drew the critical penalty, an art form for which he is well known in Premier League competition, as he was fouled dribbling toward the Danish goal. Kane’s fourth goal of the tournament was his tenth at major international tournaments, equaling the England record.

Everton’s Jordan Pickford had earlier surpassed Gordon Banks’s English record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal before conceding the match’s opening score on a direct free kick by Denmark’s Mikkel Damsgaard. Damsgaard became not only the first player to score against England in this year’s Euros but also became the first player to score by direct free kick in this year’s tournament. England responded to the Danish challenge before the first half ended when Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka took a through pass from Kane deep into the box before laying off for Sterling. Denmark’s Simon Kjaer intervened, only to knock the ball into his own net. The two clubs then battled through a scoreless second half and into extra time, with the Denmark bus firmly parked, before Sterling and Kane completed the comeback win for England.

Italy secured its place in the final by defeating Spain on penalty kicks after extra time concluded with the teams tied 1-1. Chelsea’s Jorginho scored the winning penalty with his trademark hop and skip approach to the ball which helped him score seven penalties in Premier League play this season.

Italy’s Federico Chiesa had opened the match’s scoring with his second goal of the tournament at the 60-minute mark, making Italy just the second team to have five players score two or more goals in a European Championship. Spain forced extra time, and ultimately kicks, through an 80th minute goal by Alvaro Morata, a second half substitution for Manchester City player Ferran Torres. Unfortunately for Morata, the star crossed former Chelsea striker offered only a weak attempt on his later penalty try, just before Jorginho’s winner, and thus positioned himself once again for adverse social media attention. Though Morata’s regular time goal made him Spain’s leading all-time scorer in the Euros, his tournament performance will be marked by the poor penalty attempt and other wasted chances in this year’s competition.

Italy, unbeaten in 33 straight games, will be in their fourth Euro final, having won in 1968, and will make their 10th visit to a major tournament final. England, who will be playing in front of at least 60,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday, are in a major tournament final for the first time since 1966.

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