Raheem Sterling claimed there was contact from Denmark's Joakim Maehle before he went to ground to win the decisive penalty in England's 2-1 European Championship semi-final victory.

The decision to award England a penalty after 102 minutes of play at Wembley stood up to a VAR check and Harry Kane had the spot-kick saved before he buried the rebound past Kasper Schmeichel.

Earlier, England had fallen behind to a superb long-range free-kick from Mikkel Damsgaard before Sterling forced an equaliser that went in off Simon Kjaer.

Sterling said he felt the decision to award the penalty in extra time was correct, telling ITV: "I went into the box, he stuck his right leg out and it touched my leg so it's a clear penalty.

"As long as it goes in the back of the net, that's all that matters."

Sterling has scored three times on England's route to the final at Wembley, where they will play Italy on Sunday evening.

The Manchester City forward said the experience of bouncing back after conceding their first goal of the tournament would stand England in good stead against Roberto Mancini's Azzurri.

"It was a top performance," said the 26-year-old. "We had to dig in deep. "It was the first time we conceded but we responded well and showed good spirit.

"We knew it would be difficult. We stayed patient and we knew the legs and aggressiveness we have in the team we'd be okay.

"It's another step in the right direction. We have to focus on the weekend now. It's step-by-step. We know what football means to this country. The energy, the atmosphere...it was top.

"Now we have Italy. We will celebrate a little bit then focus on Italy."

The dark horses fell at the penultimate fence.

Wembley Stadium on Wednesday was one step too far for Denmark. From that awful moment when Christian Eriksen collapsed, through two group defeats, a battering of Russia and Wales and Joakim Maehle's magic against the Czech Republic, Kasper Hjulmand's men have captivated fans at Euro 2020 more than any other side.

Against England, the brutal truth of football took over. Denmark were good, but just not good enough. The standout individual performances, the critical moments, the game management – they belonged to the Three Lions.

Fans should commiserate, of course, but they should celebrate, too, for what their team have produced in these past few weeks.

England had been the most resolute of all sides at these finals. Five games, five clean sheets – their best return at a major tournament. They had not let in a goal since March. Midway through the first half against Denmark, Jordan Pickford broke Gordon Banks' record of 720 minutes without conceding.

It was likely to take something special to break that run. Barely 60 seconds later, it duly arrived.

Mikkel Damsgaard, 21 years old, unleashed a sensational, dipping free-kick from more than 30 yards out that flew past Pickford's despairing grasp. It was the first direct free-kick scored at these finals and the eighth direct goal involvement the Sampdoria man – who is sure to attract interest from across the continent – had managed in seven starts for his country.

Damsgaard served up a moment worthy of the stage, of the exceptional tournament Hjulmand's men have had.

It was unfortunate then to concede an equaliser via captain Simon Kjaer, his desperate lunge to stop Raheem Sterling scoring a tap-in only sending the ball into the unguarded net. Perhaps Schmeichel could have done more to cut out Bukayo Saka's cross, though Sterling would have scored a minute earlier but for a mighty block from the Leicester City goalkeeper.

 

Schmeichel has enjoyed trips to Wembley this year. On May 15, Leicester lifted the FA Cup thanks to two moments of stupendous quality against Chelsea: Youri Tielemans' goal, and Schmeichel's fingertip save from Mason Mount. He repeated the trick here, flying to his right to claw away a Harry Maguire header and stopping Kane's goalbound low strike on the stretch in the second half.

You began to sense that, if penalties came, Schmeichel might prove the hero. When he finally faced one, he did indeed keep it out – but the rebound fell at Kane's feet for the easiest Wembley goal he will ever score. He still made a last-second save to deny Sterling at the end of extra time, as if to remind us of his real quality.

There is never a good way to lose a semi-final, but this 2-1 loss felt cruel on Denmark. England deserved to win the match, that's certainly true, but Schmeichel did not deserve to lose. Captain Kjaer, a hero in the truest sense when Eriksen's life was in danger, should never have been the man to score an own goal in his country's biggest game in 29 years.

When it comes to results, elite football can be a harsh place. But events like these are also about the journey, and Denmark's at these finals has been one to remember.

John Stones extended his arm and held up a palm. Stop. Breathe.

It was time for Jordan Pickford to calm down. No time for bedlam.

The Everton goalkeeper headed into Wednesday's Euro 2020 semi-final encounter with Denmark in superb form, yet to be beaten in the tournament.

In the 27th minute at Wembley, Pickford moved on to 720 minutes without conceding a goal for England, breaking a record set by the great Gordon Banks between May and July 1966. We all know how that tournament ended and how none have ended like it in the 55 years and four semi-final defeats since.

But by the time Pickford pouched that piece of history, events had already started to turn.

After Kalvin Phillips erred to allow a shot from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Pickford frantically sought to launch an attack - his distribution often such a plus for Gareth Southgate. He hurled the ball straight at Mikkel Damsgaard, who understandably seemed a little surprised by that.

A passage of gasping, pulse-quickening mistakes ended with Martin Braithwaite having a shot deflected behind for a corner. England emerged unscathed but robbed entirely of their early poise.

Damsgaard, Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg were finding pockets of space all across the turf, with England's plan for snuffing out Denmark's lightning breaks apparently amounting to little more than Kyle Walker being terrifyingly fast. He's terrifyingly brilliant, too, but still...

Too much was passing England's defensive midfield block by. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips did not make a tackle between them in the first half. Tottenham's Hojbjerg, patrolling central areas expertly alongside Thomas Delaney, snapped into five all by himself.

Rice was caught napping by Dolberg, who was brought down by Mason Mount. That's what friends are for.

A relatively unthreatening free-kick became a threatening one as Luke Shaw wrapped his arms around Andreas Christensen defending the initial set-piece. From 30 yards, Damsgaard creamed a delightful strike beyond Pickford, who will think he should have done better.

 

In calmer times, perhaps he would. Then there was further skittishness, prompting centre-back Stones to intervene.

Contrary to Pickford's need to slow down, England's best moments came when they dared Denmark to find a solution to Bukayo Saka's quicksilver pace and Raheem Sterling's restless, relentless, intelligent movement.

Sterling started the game tearing mercilessly after the right-hand side of the Danish defence. He should have done better after cutting inside Christensen and scuffing a shot too close to Kasper Schmeichel.

A scuff would have done the job in the 38th minute, when Sterling met Saka's low cross sweetly and Schmeichel saved improbably. But the seed was planted – more ice-cool work in behind from Saka, more scrambled brains as Sterling made a nuisance of himself, with the result an own goal for skipper Simon Kjaer.

The contest continued in that vein throughout the second half, when whichever side found themselves on the backfoot appeared to be operating in a state of anguish. The occasion simultaneously fuelled its protagonists and threatened to blow up in their faces. Pickford saved sharply from Dolberg, unaware of the offside flag

Into the final 20 minutes of normal time and the highest stakes elite football was operating under park rules: next goal wins. Southgate's team are gloriously unburdened by England's tragicomic history. But no footballer with a pulse would be unburdened by such a present.

Jack Grealish was on but Kasper Hjulmand used his bench more boldly, sending on Yussuf Poulsen and Christian Norgaard for the impressive Damsgaard and Dolberg. Or was it more desperately, as Rice and Phillips (95.2 and 90.2 per cent pass completion) emerged from choppy waters to gradually exert control and wrestle the opponents deeper.

Six minutes of stoppage time: would you even dare? Sterling still asked questions of defenders with no remaining appetite for such trivia. Fouls piled up, bodies were on the line. This was how England tended to conclude big knockout games but Denmark reached the sanctuary of full-time.

 

Still Southgate kept his talent-stacked bench sheathed. Harry Kane fired towards Schmeichel on the angle. No one was there for the rebound. Fresh legs might have been.

And so, they arrived. Phil Foden instantly schemed with bad intentions, briefly lifting kindred-spirit Grealish in the process.

Sterling still schemed with bad intentions and found himself lying at the feet of Jannik Vestergaard, which felt mocking because the hulking centre-back looked like the biggest, tiredest man in the whole world.

The Manchester City forward was on the floor due to some combination of contact from Joakim Maehle and Mathias Jensen. Danny Makkelie ruled it was enough for a penalty.

Stop. Breathe.

Saved? No problem. Harry Kane never needs to calm down with a loose ball and a goal in front of him.

2-1. It was time for bedlam.

Harry Kane equalled Gary Lineker as England's joint-highest goalscorer in major tournaments as he propelled the Three Lions into the Euro 2020 final.

Kane scored on the rebound after having a penalty saved by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in extra-time at Wembley on Wednesday.

It made it 2-1 to England, with Simon Kjaer's own goal having cancelled out Mikkel Damsgaard's opener.

Schmeichel got down to his left to keep out a relatively tame spot-kick – which was won contentiously by the excellent Raheem Sterling – yet the rebound fell kindly to Kane, who coolly tucked in his 10th goal in a major tournament.

That tally brings the England captain level with Three Lions great Lineker.

All of Kane's major-tournament goals have come with his right foot (seven) or head (three).

 

The Tottenham talisman scored six times at World Cup 2018, repeating Lineker's feat from 1986 of winning the golden boot. 

After a slow start to Euro 2020, he has netted four times in the three knockout rounds, and will aim to set the new record when England take on Italy in Sunday's showdown.

Kane and Lineker are out ahead of Alan Shearer (nine), Wayne Rooney (seven), Geoff Hurst (six) and Michael Owen (six).

Hurst's fellow World Cup winner Bobby Charlton has five, while David Platt and Steven Gerrard both netted four times.

Kane is behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (both five) in the scoring charts at Euro 2020, with another tournament golden boot firmly in his sights.

On his penalty miss and subsequent follow-up effort, Kane told ITV Sport: "I chose the side I was going to go, it wasn't the best executed penalty I've ever had sometimes you miss and it falls your way and thankfully it did today. 

"We know it's going to be a very tough game against Italy. We've had a great tournament so far. One more game to go at home and we can't wait."

England reached their first European Championship final as an extra-time goal from Harry Kane sealed a 2-1 win over Denmark at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday. 

The Three Lions had lost their only previous two semi-finals in the competition – against Yugoslavia in 1968 and Germany in 1996 – but Kane stroked home after his initial penalty had been saved by Kasper Schmeichel in the 104th minute to ensure they will face Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. 

Mikkel Damsgaard had put Denmark ahead on the half-hour mark with a superb free-kick before Gareth Southgate’s side pulled level before the break when Simon Kjaer bundled into his own net under pressure from Raheem Sterling. 

England were unable to find a winner inside 90 minutes, but Kane secured a memorable win at the second time of asking to set up a mouth-watering clash against Roberto Mancini's Azzurri at the weekend.

Sterling scuffed a shot straight at Schmeichel after cutting in from the left early on, while Martin Braithwaite had an effort deflected wide at the other end following a poor throw by Jordan Pickford.

England struggled to get a foothold in the game for much of the opening half hour and were duly punished when Damsgaard whipped a free-kick past Pickford from 30 yards, ending a run of 691 minutes without conceding for Southgate's men. 

Sterling fired straight at Schmeichel from six yards as England belatedly woke from their slumber, before they pulled level in the 39th minute when Kjaer turned into his own net from Bukayo Saka's low cross. 

A full-stretch Schmeichel pawed away Harry Maguire's header at the start of the second period, while a Luke Shaw cross flashed wide after taking a heavy deflection off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. 

England dominated the second half, taking nine shots to Denmark's one, but they were unable to find a goal that would have prevented extra-time. 

Kane was denied by Schmeichel from a tight angle at the start of the additional period and the Denmark goalkeeper was called into action again soon after to push away substitute Jack Grealish's powerful strike.

Schmeichel thought he had got the better of Kane again, the Leicester City man keeping out his weak spot-kick after Sterling had been brought down by Joakim Maehle, but the England captain slotted the rebound into an empty net to send Wembley into raptures.

Harry Kane is the best finisher in world football and supporters were wrong to doubt him amid his slow Euro 2020 start.

That is the view of former England manager Steve McClaren as Kane prepares to lead the line in Wednesday's huge semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday.

Kane failed to score in all three group games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic as England made a steady but unspectacular start.

There were questions over whether the 27-year-old should retain his place in the line-up but the Tottenham striker responded with a headed goal against Germany in the last 16 and two more as England thrashed Ukraine 4-0 in the last eight.

Kane, the top scorer at World Cup 2018, has been involved in 27 goals in his last 26 games for England.

He has nine goals at major tournaments, with his second goal against Ukraine meaning he matched the career total scored by Alan Shearer.

Ahead of the Denmark game, Kane is one away from equalling the national record held by Gary Lineker (10).

Reflecting on Kane's tournament, McClaren told Stats Perform: "Unbelievable. 

"Do we not learn the lessons? You know, you have got Shearer and Lineker on the TV and talking their exploits and not scoring for ages coming into squads.

"Terry Venables [kept faith] with Shearer and Bobby Robson did with Lineker, do we not learn from this? 

"And you could see from the first games, okay, he's out of sorts, but he didn't get the service.

"There were no crosses going into the box, there was no one sliding balls through. 

"And to be fair Harry was outside the box the majority of the time but against Ukraine, Germany, he was inside the box.

"When he is inside the box, he is the best finisher in the world at the present moment. So put the ball in the box. Once we do that, he will score without a doubt."

 

McClaren believes Kane and Raheem Sterling are the two automatic attacking selections for Gareth Southgate, with a host of options beyond that for the other two spots.

"Reliability, that is the key thing," McClaren said about Sterling. "He's always produced for England, why? He's got the trust of Gareth. Every time he comes in, he plays. 

"It's difficult in a club because there are many, many games and sometimes you've been left out or other talent comes in. 

"And I think he's had an up and down season with Man City and in his relationship with Pep Guardiola. 

"He's not the nailed on number one like he is with England and that's the key thing. 

"He's playing with that freedom and you don't see players like that in any of the other nations. 

"Someone who can beat players, go past players, can score with both feet, with his head now he's getting into the box. But he can also create like he did for Kane against Ukraine."

 

McClaren believes England have fringe players who would be huge stars for most of the other nations at the Euros, talking up the likes of Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden.

He added: "Gareth's got an embarrassment of riches, he's got so many players who are so different in those positions.

"Grealish normally in any other team in these championships would be the star man regularly playing every game, Foden would be the star man playing every game, Sancho would be the star man playing every game. 

"They are not for England - what a luxury for Gareth.

"Sancho is just one of those talents amongst quite a few that we've got. He beats players, he's quick, strong, direct - he can assist, he can score. 

"He is a younger Sterling at the present moment and looking at him in the future, he could be better than him."

 

While the attacking options often dominate the public debate, McClaren has been extremely impressed with West Ham's Declan Rice and Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in midfield.

"The work-rate, intensity, the amount of interceptions, the tackles that they put in, they have been for me the unsung heroes of the performances so far," said McClaren.

"We always say if you if you've got weak centre backs or you're not too sure about your centre backs, you always give them protection.

"When you're a little bit suspect there and you have [Tryone] Mings and [John] Stones and people, and without [Harry] Maguire [for the initial games], he [Southgate] needed that protection.

"They've been absolutely fantastic. They've protected the back, let them defend well from crosses. And they've also provided the front players the freedom to go about their jobs. 

"So it's a thankless task, but they're doing it so well."

 

Of the threat posed by Denmark, he added: "I think the big danger is the momentum that they're gaining, the emotion from everybody is with Denmark.

"Christian Eriksen with that incident - so pleased for him and his family and for everybody in football that he's fine and is recovering. 

"But I just think they've been galvanised by what has happened and if Eriksen is at the game with the Danish squad, that's an unbelievable boost. 

"You can see that something is behind them and that for me is the biggest danger, it is not so much Denmark, the players and the team - it's the momentum and the sway and the emotion and the euphoria that is propelling that Danish team above what they should be doing. 

"When you have a cause like that, it so powerful, a powerful emotion, a powerful incentive to see Eriksen at the game as well."

Former England boss Steve McClaren believes Gareth Southgate will guide the country to Euro 2020 glory ahead of their huge semi-final against Denmark.

McClaren thinks Southgate must be struggling to sleep at night given the array of options he has when trying to select a starting XI for Wednesday's match at Wembley.

But he feels England have everything they need to get over the line at the tournament by beating Denmark and winning the final.

Italy will play either England or Denmark in Sunday's final after beating Spain on penalties in the other semi.

McClaren has been so impressed by what he has seen from England and thinks they have a squad that can technically match any other on the continent.

 

"Physically, we are so strong, powerful," McClaren said to Stats Perform.

"And speed, we've got speed in the team, we didn't really have speed before, but now we can explode. You see the power and the intensity that we play with.

"What we've got over these last 10 years - we have produced players through the FA, through the Premier League, through the [Elite Performance Plan].

"We have created players who now technically can live with the best in Europe and the world and tactically they can now adapt to different situations.

"The key thing now is mentality because I think once we win a trophy, and we will, and I think it will be this year, then we will continue to dominate. 

"And that mentality will be so strong once you win, get over that hurdle, getting past the semi-final, getting into our final and winning - that belief that it gives you, that's the mentality part. 

"That's the bit that's missing. But this squad can deliver that."

 

McClaren has been impressed by the spirit Southgate has maintained in the England squad amid a huge public debate over who should be playing.

The lack of game time for the likes of Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho was a major talking point earlier in the competition but Southgate appears to have kept the whole camp on side.

"Look, he knows, all managers know, it's not about the one to 11," added McClaren.

"It's about the 12 to 26 and Gareth knows that you've got to look after those players who are not playing, who are sat in the stands, who don't get an opportunity to play. 

"One to 11, they're low maintenance or should be low maintenance. It's the 12 to 26. They're the ones you have to focus on.

"And he knows he's got to get a relationship, keep a relationship, keep them on board, because as he's proved, this isn't searching for England's best 11. 

"Yes, in terms of a core, what is the best core, but around that core, he's got players that he's used all the time.

"He's not afraid to use them, change the team, change the formation."

 

Southgate will be pondering whether to bring Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka back into the line-up after he missed the 4-0 quarter-final win over Ukraine with a knock.

McClaren added: "Saka came in and did well, Grealish has come in and everyone's clamouring for him, Sancho everyone's clamouring for him, [Marcus] Rashford doesn't even get a game. 

"So who knows how he sleeps at night!

"But certainly the core of the team is there, the back four is there. The [Declan] Rice and [Kalvin] Phillips partnership is there, [Jordan] Henderson can come in and add to that.

"Ahead of that you've got [Harry] Kane and [Raheem] Sterling who are nailed on, but you've got two positions in which you've got [Mason] Mount, [Phil] Foden, Grealish, Rashford, Sancho, Saka - they can all come in, so how do you pick two from that?"

 

Southgate must also decide whether to revert back to a three-man defence as he did against Germany in the last 16, but McClaren hopes he remains aggressive with a 4-2-3-1.

"I think he started the tournament wanting to get through the group stage and he did that," McClaren opined.

"Germany was a huge game. He wanted to keep it tight, be a bit pragmatic, but I think he just opened up against Ukraine and I hope he continues with that.

"[Kieran] Trippier, [Luke] Shaw, [Kyle] Walker, [Ben] Chilwell, they are basically full-backs and so therefore [playing in a] 3-4-3, especially with two controllers, Rice and Phillips, is hard. 

"We've only got three strikers and then it's very difficult as you're relying on supply. Those players are better full-backs with wingers ahead and then they can be overlapping. 

"[With a 3-4-3] we attack with three and it was easier to contain. Yes, we always were in control with Germany, Scotland and the Czech Republic but I just felt an extra attacker would help.

"It would better to have full-backs coming from behind."

A lot can change in a month. Think back to England's pre-Euro 2020 friendlies and most fans or pundits were likely highlighting the defence as their primary concern.

Harry Maguire was injured and seemingly a doubt for the entire group stage; Trent Alexander-Arnold was ruled out of the tournament; and certain decisions made by Tyrone Mings had alarm bells ringing.

Yet, here we are, four weeks on and England are preparing for a Euro 2020 semi-final having not conceded a single goal in five tournament matches.

While sceptics might suggest the general level of those opponents wasn't always world class, the fact is their five clean sheets has equalled a major tournament record – it is a genuine achievement in itself.

That record is extended to Jordan Pickford as well, with the Everton goalkeeper one clean sheet away from setting a new record for the most clean sheets at a European Championship (six).

 

Before Euro 2020, most will have been championing England's forward options as the team's strongest element, but now there's more than a case for the defence.

Solid and dependable

While Everton fans would insist Jordan Pickford's form has been strong for a while, it's fair to say there are many who've been surprised – rightly or wrongly – by his showings at Euro 2020.

His kicking has been an asset to England, while he's produced some excellent saves and his importance to the team is quantifiable as well.

According to xGOT (expected goals on target) conceded data, Pickford has actively prevented 1.5 goals at Euro 2020. Now, that may not sound massive in the grand scheme of things, it's actually highly impressive given the small sample of matches involved.

Only Stole Dimitrievski (2.6) and Tomas Vaclik (2.5) have prevented more goals than him in the tournament, though their respective xGA (expected goals against) figures of 8.85 and 6.7 show their records come from a larger pool of quality chances than Pickford (2.95).

 

Of course, away from goalkeeping, defensive excellence can be difficult to outline with statistics, particularly in good teams. For example, if John Stones was leading the charts for the most tackles, it would suggest England were playing a risky game because of the over-reliance on someone in their backline. He isn't, and that obviously reflects well on the Three Lions' organisation.

But two individual metrics reflect particularly well on Harry Maguire. The Manchester United centre-back has received great praise since returning to the team for the third group game, impressing with his reliability at the back.

The acclaim is backed up by the fact he's not lost a single aerial duel (8/8) and come out on top in 14 of his 16 overall duels since coming back into the side.

Both he and Pickford will be looked to again on Wednesday, particularly given Denmark – whose 15 direct attacks is the most of all teams at Euro 2020 – have scored 11 times so far, a haul bettered by only Spain (12) before the semis.

Shields up

Central midfield was another area of the team that had sections of the support unconvinced ahead of the tournament, with the double-pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips deemed by many as too conservative. Granted, few Premier League fans would have looked at them and thought, "these two guarantee goals", but international football over the past nine years has given great credence to the idea pragmatism rules.

It'd now be fair to assume the majority of England fans would start both players for the remainder of the tournament, regardless of the opposition. As a pair they possess great athleticism, good ball-retention ability, work ethic and defensive nous.

Phillips has arguably been the greater eye-opener. While his advanced role against Croatia may not have developed into a continuing theme, his ability to sniff out danger and be in the right place at the right time has been notable, and as such only six midfielders could better his 28 recoveries prior to the semi-finals.

 

Similarly, his athleticism has translated well to aerial battles as well, with his 10 aerial wins ranking him fourth among midfielders.

Rice has generally been the one of the two with the greater defensive responsibility, as reflected by his eight interceptions, two blocks and seven clearances, all of which put him in the top five for midfielders at Euro 2020 prior to the semi-finals.

Though it's also worth highlighting that, although Rice works effectively off the ball, his influence in possession is also significant, as evidenced by the collective xG value of build-ups he's involved in being 3.1, only bettered by four Spain players.

Sure, this metric will be weighted in favour of teams who play more games and have a greater share of the ball, but he's ranked higher than the likes of Jordi Alba (2.3) and Jorginho (2.6), which speaks volumes.

So, while the defence and Pickford are certainly doing a fine job, their defensive shield is also proving highly capable.

Passive effective

In 2021, high-intensity pressing is very much in vogue, which is another reason why this England team is so interesting. While some teams almost religiously stick to such principals, the Three Lions prefer to pick their moments.

This is partly reflected by England's 35 high turnovers being the lowest of the four semi-finalists (Spain and Denmark on 47, Italy on 42), while their 98 defensive actions is also well behind (Spain 159, Italy 134, Denmark 127).

England's average starting position of 42.6 metres (also a low among the last four) shows how they tend to defend deeper, and the fact they allow 18.6 passes on average before initiating a defensive action (PPDA) further reflects Southgate's desire to have a lower line of engagement.

 

It's not that England don't press, they are just more passive in general. This certainly won't be a surprising revelation to anyone who has watched them at Euro 2020.

This passive nature doesn't necessarily lend itself to many people's idea of exciting football, but it seems to be having a real impact…

How it all comes together

Whether or not Southgate's masterplan was to shutdown the opposition and rely on their own clinical finishing, only he can say, though it's worked out that way so far.

Again, generally speaking England games haven't exactly been packed with excitement for the neutrals, with their matches averaging just 15.8 shots – that's the lowest of any side in the Euros dating back to at least 1980, with the next being Germany (2021) on 18.5.

Seemingly England's low defensive line – which has often comprised of a back three – coupled with two defensive-minded deep-lying midfielders has contributed to England facing just two shots on target per game, second only to Italy (1.8).

 

On top of that, 43 per cent of their shots faced have been outside of the box, the fourth-highest share of all teams at the tournament, and that undoubtedly plays a role in England's 0.07 xG against per shot being the lowest at Euro 2020 ahead of the semis. Additionally, their 2.95 xG against and two Opta-defined 'big chances' conceded are the lowest.

Of course, that would all be for nothing if England couldn't put the ball away at the other end, yet their 21.6 conversion rate is the highest of all 24 teams prior to the final three matches and shows just how efficient they've been, despite Harry Kane coming in for significant criticism earlier in the tournament.

 

Nevertheless, England's excellence at the back so far is by no means a guarantee of success on Wednesday. It only takes one moment of genius or calamity to ruin all the hard work, and that could come from anywhere, anyone.

But the data helps paint a picture of structural effectiveness in the team, as well as a collective quality that is breeding consistency.

While the relevance of the past certainly pales in comparison to what comes next, it's undoubtedly comforting to Southgate and England fans alike that they've had such a solid foundation to this point.

However, it will be defined by what happens in the next five days: crumble and England will fade, or stand firm and the Three Lions will surely roar again.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini insisted the Azzurri are not done yet after silencing their doubters to reach the Euro 2020 final.

Not since 1968 have Italy won the European Championship but they are one victory away from adding to their solitary Euro crown following Tuesday's 4-2 penalty shoot-out triumph over Spain.

After the semi-final finished 1-1 at the end of extra time at Wembley, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Alvaro Morata's spot-kick as Jorginho stepped up to convert the winning penalty in London.

Amid a national record 33-game unbeaten streak, Italy will face either England or Denmark in Sunday's decider at Wembley.

"We're delighted to have been able to provide this wonderful evening's entertainment to the Italian people and now we still have one game to go and we want to do exactly that if possible," Mancini – who has overseen a stunning transformation after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup – said during a news conference.

"We knew that it was going to be a very tough match because in terms of ball possession, Spain are the best around. They caused us problems, we had to dig in when we needed to. We tried to score and create opportunities when we could it was a very open match and of course there were some issues because we didn't have too much possession.

"However we wanted to make it into the final and we kept trying right until the end and as ever penalties are a lottery but I really want to take my hat off to Spain, they're a wonderful team."

Italy became the second team in the European Championship history after winners France at Euro 2000 to have five different players score two or more goals in a single tournament, following Federico Chiesa's 60th-minute opener, which was cancelled out by Morata with 10 minutes of regulation remaining.

 

The Azzurri's 12 goals at Euro 2020 is their joint-highest tally at a major tournament alongside the 2006, 1982 and 1934 World Cups. On each of those occasions, they left with the trophy.

Italy reached their 10th major final (World Cup and Euros), progressing to the decider of the European Championships for the fourth time (also six World Cup finals) – only Germany (14) have participated in more major finals amongst European nations.

Mancini said: "I must say that we are very happy about all of this, and I must thank the players because they have believed right from day one that we could produce something incredible. We haven't yet done everything we need to, there's still one step to go, and now we have to rest up because this really was very challenging.

"I did say to them before the match that this would be our hardest game of the competition, because when you go into your sixth match in such quick succession with all the travelling we've had to do, it does become very tiring. We certainly struggled with Spain's ball possession and had some issues, but we wanted to make the final."

"I think when you're involved in such an intense World Cup or European Championship, there always comes a game where you will have to dig in to be able to win a match and suffer, because it can't all be very smooth as our progress has been thus far going into the final four," he continued. "So we knew that it was going to be a very tough match, and we knew that it was going to be this game that would be the tough one. That's why I think the players, and everyone that has worked with us over the last three years deserve a lot of credit, because it wasn't easy by any means. Almost no one believed we could do it. And yet we are into the final. We are pleased for Italians everywhere that have been following us over the last few weeks."

Mancini added: "Everyone wants to do this. Occasionally it comes off, sometimes less so. But the players did want to do something different, they wanted to play a brand of football that people enjoyed and thus far they've managed to do exactly that. Difficult tasks are ultimately all the more enjoyable, and we are very happy to have made it into the final but we haven't achieved anything yet. So we still have to wait."

Luis Enrique hailed Spain sensation Pedri, comparing the teenager to Barcelona and La Roja great Andres Iniesta following Tuesday's Euro 2020 semi-final loss to Italy.

Italy booked their place in the final with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Spain after the enthralling showdown finished 1-1 at Wembley.

Despite Spain's frustrating outing after substitute Alvaro Morata cancelled out Federico Chiesa's opener, it was a memorable campaign for 18-year-old star Pedri.

Pedri became the first European player in major tournament history (World Cup and Euros) to start as many as six such matches at the age of 18 or below and Luis Enrique lavished the Barcelona midfielder in praise.

"Well I think no 18-year-old has done what Pedri has done in any major competition, whether it's the Euros, the World Cup or the Olympics," Luis Enrique told reporters.

"His performances, the way he reads the game, the way he finds space, his quality, his personality, I've never seen anything like that, not even Andres Iniesta.

"It's absolutely impossible to explain."

Luis Enrique also lauded attacker Dani Olmo, adding: "[He] was absolutely fantastic today, he's a very intelligent player with plenty of quality. He is good between the lines, he picks up the ball well.

"We wanted to starve [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Leonardo] Bonucci of that focal point and I think we did that really well. We wanted to prevent them from doing what they did with [Romelu] Lukaku so it was about creating that four versus three in that area of the pitch. That meant it was going to be difficult for them to take the ball from us.

"We created a lot of chances and I think we were just missing that final step in terms of taking some of our chances. It's very difficult to get the ball off a player like Dani Olmo so I think the players implemented our tactics to perfection. Olmo is a very important player for us because he can play in a range of different situations. He can score goals and he's a very complete footballer."

 

Left out of the starting line-up for the first time this tournament, Morata made an impact from the bench by equalising with 10 minutes remaining in normal time following Chiesa's 60th-minute opener.

Neither side could find a way through in the additional period in what was a repeat of the 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0 for their third European title, though it was Italy who prevailed in Tuesday's enthralling clash.

Morata's penalty was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, paving the way for Jorginho to convert the winning spot-kick, as Italy extended their unbeaten run to 33 games to set up a clash with either England or Denmark in Sunday's final at the same ground. 

Embattled forward Morata has now scored more goals at the European Championships than any other Spain player (six), overtaking Fernando Torres' five goals. In fact, Morata became the first ever Spain player to score for club and country at Wembley.

Morata is also in rarefied company as the second player to scored three or more times in multiple Euros after Cristiano Ronaldo, who has done so on three occasions.

"He has an abductor problem. It really says a lot about his personality that despite that he wanted to take a penalty. He's gone through some tough times during this tournament but he was brilliant," said Luis Enrique.

"He really created a lot of uncertainty in the Italian ranks, he scored of course, so he was excellent. I haven't seen him because he's had to go to doping control. I was able to see Jordi Alba, but I'll go and see him now.

After Spain failed to progress from a semi-final at a major tournament (World Cup and Euros) for the first time in their history, Luis Enrique said: "I'd say that it would be an A- for my players, it would be an A+ had we won. We've been speaking about how we want to play at the Euros for many months.

"The players really bought into that and they did a wonderful job of it. I have no complaints. Really, I just want to congratulate my players. We've shown that we are a team and that we are going to continue doing that. Now it's important for us to rest while the rest of the teams compete and we'll see each other again at future training camps."

Italy will have a shot at their first European title for 53 years after overcoming Spain on penalties in Tuesday's Euro 2020 semi-final.

Four-time world champions Italy were taken to extra-time at Wembley, where Alvaro Morata cancelled out Federico Chiesa's opener to ensure it was 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Neither side could find the breakthrough during the additional half hour and Manuel Locatelli and Dani Olmo failed with the opening penalties for their respective sides.

But Morata turned from hero to villain when Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his tame spot-kick and Jorginho converted to book a final showdown with either England or Denmark.

For Spain, and Morata in particular, this night could have ended up feeling very different indeed.

 

Italy claim the spoils in latest instalment of titanic rivalry

At the expense of their fellow heavyweights, Italy reached the 10th major tournament final and fourth in this competition. Only Germany (14) have competed in more among European nations.

Spain chalked up an unwanted first, having progressed on each of their previous five semi-final appearances at World Cups and European Championships.

Luis Enrique's side went the distance for a third consecutive match after beating Croatia 5-3 in extra time and seeing off Switzerland in a quarter-final shoot-out – equalling the record for the most extra-time periods in a single Euro (Portugal, 2016).

No side have been taken to extra time more often in the history of the competition than Italy (nine).

 

History before heartbreak for Morata

Morata has been a focus of derision for some throughout this tournament and, unfortunately, it looks like there will be plenty more of that to come.

Before kick-off at Wembley it even looked as if Luis Enrique had lost faith.

The Spain boss has been a staunch defender of his main forward in the face of persistent criticism, but opted to go with a fluid front three of Ferran Torres, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal.

Morata entered the fray in place of Manchester City forward Torres in the 62nd minute and coolly dispatched Spain's equaliser with 10 to play in normal time.

The Juventus man has now scored more goals at the European Championship than any other Spain player with six, overtaking Fernando Torres.

He is also in rarefied company as the second player to scored three or more times in multiple Euros after Cristiano Ronaldo, who has done so on three occasions.

Playing for Chelsea in 2017-18, Morata scored in a 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Southampton, meaning on Tuesday he became the first Spanish player to net at Wembley for both club and country.

Morata's is a truly accomplished body of work and one he can hopefully take solace in over the tough days and weeks ahead.

 

Chiesa helps Italy to share the load

Roberto Mancini's freewheeling attack were denied their usual joy by Spain during the opening stages.

Left-back Emerson hit the crossbar in the 45th minute – Italy's first shot of the game and their longest wait for an attempt on goal in the tournament.

Indeed, only versus the Netherlands at Euro 2000 have they had to wait so long in the modern era, with the Oranje keeping the Azzurri at bay until the 48th minute.

As in the last 16 against Austria, Chiesa was again on target at Wembley,

That meant Italy became the second team in the European Championship history after winners France at Euro 2000 to have five different players score two or more goals in a single tournament.

Chiesa joined Locatteli, Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Matteo Pessina on two for the competition.

Italy's 12 goals at Euro 2020 is their joint-highest tally at a major tournament alongside the 2006, 1982 and 1934 World Cups. On each of those occasions, they left with the trophy.

 

Perfection for pass master Pedri

Spain outperformed many pre-tournament expectations and in Pedri, they have a potential superstar of the global game for years to come.

The Barcelona midfielder is the first ever player to start six games in a single Euro or World Cup aged 18 or below.

In normal time, Pedri completed all 56 of his passes, including 37 in the Italy half. He became the second player in Euros history to record 100 per cent accuracy after 90 minutes, although France's Samuel Umtiti (76/76 at Euro 2016) probably had an easier route to his statistics from centre-back.

At the end of extra time, he had completed 65 of 67 passes. Nobody's perfect, eh?

In the 15th minute and then early in extra time, the chant of "Football's coming home" rang out around certain quarters of Wembley.

A handful of English supporters even waved the St George's flag excitedly, these people having sadly come down with a curious case of 'helluva match' fatigue.

The Spanish and Italian fans in London whistled in derision, united in incredulity. Before them a vintage Euro 2020 semi-final was unfolding, but their English brethren were farting out a Lightning Seeds song.

Like the Wimbledon wag who shouts "Come on, Tim" in an Andy Murray match, this was conduct that invited pity. Save it for another day, eh?

Besides, hadn't they read the signs?

An Italy fan strode down Wembley Way before kick-off in a tricolore flag bearing the slogan 'IT'S COMING HOME TO ROME', a giant red cross striking out 'HOME'.

And who would doubt that now?

Italy aren't going home to Rome yet, but when they do, they believe it will be as returning heroes. The Azzurri are through to the European Championship final, vying to land this title for the first time since 1968, a penalty shoot-out victory over La Roja sure to only enhance the sense of invincibility that now characterises Roberto Mancini's team.

That's 33 games unbeaten for Italy now, Jorginho their fifth taker in the penalty shoot-out with the glory, passing the ball into the right corner with an unimaginable degree of calm after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from, rather inevitably, Alvaro Morata.

 

Andrea Belotti, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi before him had also beaten Unai Simon, after Manuel Locatelli and Dani Olmo traded early misses.

Italy's players raced to their supporters behind the goal, boss Mancini danced for joy with his coaching staff, and Spain held their heads in dismay.

Luis Enrique's Spanish team, whose tepid start to this tournament must have been some sort of smoke screen, would have been equally deserving winners of a gripping match.

They had 16 shots to Italy's seven, a dominant 70.1 per cent of possession, and their record of four in five penalty shoot-out triumphs in European Championship history seemed to bode well.

Yet that lone defeat came at Wembley, a full 25 years ago when England scuppered Spanish hopes in the quarter-finals. Luis Enrique was on the bench that day, an unused substitute powerless to directly impact the outcome, and history harshly repeated itself.

Italy looked for a while to be going through on the back of a glorious fast-break goal, clinically finished by Federico Chiesa, whose father Enrico played at Euro 96 for the Azzurri.

As the hour approached, Donnarumma clutched a tame Jordi Alba cross and put a plan into action.

Italy's players were crowded around their penalty area, as far as Spain were concerned, Alba and Co having spent the previous minute trying to plot a route through a thick wall of blue shirts.

And then suddenly the Italians weren't there, they were going this way and that, left and right, and the ball was going with them.

Donnarumma ran a few strides and rolled it to Marco Verratti, who dashed from the edge of Italy's penalty box and picked out a pass to Lorenzo Insigne tight to the left flank.

Forward, forward, forza Azzurri. Insigne threaded a near genius ball with the outside of his right foot behind the Spanish defence, and despite Aymeric Laporte preventing Ciro Immobile running through to score, the ball reached Chiesa. Eric Garcia stood off, allowed Chiesa to shift the ball to his right foot, and the winger lashed into the far right corner.

It was a goal that made Italy just the second side in European Championship history to have as many as five different players (Chiesa, Matteo Pessina, Insigne, Immobile and Locatelli) score two or more goals at a single edition of the competition, after winners France in 2000.

 

Mancini in his playing days was one of those footballers whose first yard was in his head, who would see things before others, who made up for a lack of any real pace with an abundance of awereness.

No wonder he looked exhilarated by Chiesa's goal, which came straight out of the quick thinker's playbook.

Mancini's one-time mentor Sven-Goran Eriksson told Stats Perform ahead of this game that Mancini was always a step ahead in his mind.

"He was able to see things way more quickly than any other player, even than me as a coach. And he would see that something could happen," Eriksson said.

"I like seeing the football played by Italy because they attack, they play the ball pushing forward, they don't play like tic-tac, tic-tac. They get the ball, they steal the ball and then go. They lose the ball, they fall back, they defend, aggressive."

This was Italy encapsulated against Spain, with the emphasis on the aggressive in the late stages, a tiring team resorting to what tiring teams sometimes must.

The Azzurri did not have a single shot on target in the first half, the first time that has occurred during the knock-out stage of a major tournament since their loss to France in the Euro 2000 final. They did, however, hit the bar seconds before the break, Emerson from a tight angle.

 

Italy's lead here lasted 20 minutes, Morata stepping off the bench and seemingly setting his tournament onto a positive course, after taking so much early flak in these finals.

Giorgio Chiellini, the 36-year-old captain of Mancini's team, was unable to keep pace with his Juventus team-mate as Morata sprinted past him to score.

The Morata narrative had more to give though, and it came as a surprise surely to nobody when Donnarumma smothered his timid penalty.

Jorginho was up next and Italy were home and hosed. They sat out the last World Cup, humiliated by failure to qualify, but these heavyweights of international football are back.

Mancini threw his arms around Donnarumma and Italy celebrated hard. England or Denmark await them in Sunday's final, also to be played at Wembley.

"Let's go back to Wembley, the dream continues," began Corriere dello Sport's write-up of this occasion.

When we talk about football coming home, and where its heartbeat lies, perhaps this year there's no place like Rome.

Leonardo Bonucci described Italy's Euro 2020 semi-final win against Spain as the "toughest game" of his career and urged his team-mates to complete the job by lifting the trophy.

The Azzurri beat Spain 4-2 on penalties in a gripping contest at Wembley on Tuesday that finished 1-1 at the end of extra time.

Alvaro Morata was introduced from the bench to cancel out Federico Chiesa's brilliant opener 10 minutes from time, but the striker's miss proved crucial in the shoot-out.

Jorginho was left to roll in the winning spot-kick as Italy booked their third final appearance in the competition since last going all the way in 1968.

That remains the four-time world champions' only continental triumph and veteran defender Bonucci is eager to put an end to that 53-year wait against England or Denmark.

"This is the toughest game I have ever played," Bonucci, who equalled Gianluigi Buffon's Italian record of 17 European Championship appearances, told RAI Sport.

"I congratulate Spain for what they showed, but once again this Italy showed heart, determination and the ability to push through difficult moments.

"The victory you suffer for is always the most enjoyable one.

"Now there's one more centimetre to go. Just one more centimetre. It's incredible what we are doing, but we mustn't feel satisfied. 

"We're in the final, it's in five days, and we need the same hunger and spirit of sacrifice to bring this trophy home after many years."

 

Italy will be competing in their 10th major tournament final – only Germany (14) have reached more among European nations – after extending their unbeaten run to 33 matches.

Gianluigi Donnarumma kept out Morata's penalty in the shoot-out to set up Jorginho's match-winning kick and could not hold back the tears at the end of the match.

"It wasn't easy, but with the strength of this group we managed to get there," he told Sky Sport Italia. "It's impossible to describe this feeling.

"I was relaxed in the shoot-out because I knew I could help the team. We gave our all and now we need one final step to make our dream come true."

Spain dominated possession (70 per cent) and had 16 shots to Italy's seven, while also creating the better opportunities both in normal time and extra time.

"They are a very strong side, but this Italy has a huge heart, we never give up and we saw that, because we suffered to the end and we snatched it," Donnarumma added.

"Spain deserve a lot of credit for causing us so many problems."

Chiesa's stunning opener in the English capital was his second goal in three matches for Italy, doubling his tally from his first 28 senior international appearances.

He was named the man of the match and dedicated his award to stricken team-mate Leonardo Spinazzola, who ruptured his Achilles in the quarter-final win against Belgium.

"He would have helped us tonight, but these things can happen in football, we hope we can give him satisfaction in the final," Chiesa told Sky Sport Italia.

"There are a few days to recover now, but we've played every three days this season, so we are ready. We'll have enough time to recover.

"As I've always said, I think about improving and reaping the rewards of my work."

Italy are only the second European nation to win each of their first six games at a major tournament after the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup.

Football can be cruel; we know that. But it seems especially mean to Alvaro Morata.

The man who was booed by his own fans, who dragged Spain through against Croatia, was finally dropped for the Euro 2020 semi-final against Italy. A purely tactical choice, but one perhaps at odds with Luis Enrique's hot-blooded defiance towards the naysayers who wanted Morata out of the team.

How amazing it was to see Morata then come off the bench and equalise with 10 minutes to go, bellow a quick "Vamos!" into the camera and get the ball back to the centre-circle. And how inevitable it felt when his tame penalty was saved, as Spain's draining campaign ended at last in another shoot-out.

Morata should not be blamed, though. Rather, Spain's failings in attack have been prevalent throughout. That might sound strange since, before the semi-finals, they were the top-scoring side in the tournament with 12, and they ended it with 13, their best goals return at a single European Championship.

But they should have had more, and not just at Wembley Stadium. They came into the contest with nine scored (excluding penalties and own goals) from 15.6 expected goals. That difference of -3.56 was the worst of any side at these finals. By the end of the semi-final, their tally stood at 10 from an xG of 17.1.

 

They had been looking promising, too. Spain may not have enthralled at these finals – just ask Rafael "they're horrible to watch" van der Vaart – but they mastered that critical art of getting better as the tournament went on.

From the drudgery of two group-stage draws – where they averaged a shot on target for 458 passes against Sweden and then let Poland have a point – La Roja sharpened up. They dismantled Slovakia in the crucial third game and put Croatia to the sword in the last 16 (even if they tried hard to throw it away). In the quarter-final against Switzerland, they fired in 28 shots across 120 minutes and only Yann Sommer's brilliance forced the contest to go to penalties.

In a damp, cool evening in London, against many observers' favourites for the trophy, Spain looked fully warmed up. The passing from midfield was crisp and purposeful; the introduction of Dani Olmo as the false nine left Italy's central trio outnumbered and scrambling after white shirts. Olmo could have scored, and Mikel Oyarzabal really should have, scuffing a shot within reach of Gianluigi Donnarumma. Italy took 45 minutes to attempt a shot, Emerson Palmieri skimming the crossbar from a tight angle.

Even after Federico Chiesa put the Azzurri ahead with an excellent finish after an hour, there was little panic within the Spain ranks. Rather, there was an acceptance, an expectation that chances would come, as they have all tournament. They duly did, Oyarzabal missing the ball when a simple headed finish presented itself, and Olmo fizzing a shot wide. Ultimately, it was Morata who went from scrutinised starter to super-sub, turning in midfield, exchanging passes with Olmo and leaving Donnarumma dumbfounded with a clinical finish.

 

Perhaps inevitably, though, it was on Spain's midfielders that everything rested. The game seemed to ebb and flow depending on which of them had the ball at any given moment. The three were like brothers from the same footballing lineage: teenager Pedri, experienced Koke, veteran Busquets. They certainly kept the ball like a family secret. Pedri completed all 56 of his passes before extra time; Busquets only misplaced four of his throughout. You'd be forgiven for thinking Koke played for Barcelona, such was his understanding with the Catalan duo.

Yet midfield control wasn't enough. At Euro 2020, it has never been enough for them. It would be unfair to suggest Italy were playing for penalties but, as soon as they came, you felt there was only one winner. Giorgio Chiellini laughed, jostled and bear-hugged Jordi Alba at the pre-shoot-out coin toss. He seemed to know. Morata did, too, the Juventus striker nodding ruefully after Donnarumma guessed right to save his spot-kick. And everyone in Wembley and around the world knew Jorginho would bury the winner.

Few had any clear idea about what Spain would achieve at these finals. Luis Enrique proved he can cultivate a strong-minded squad and navigate the rigours of a tournament; even his infamously poor relationship with the national press should not detract from a positive few weeks. They look a realistic bet for at least the latter stages of the World Cup next year.

But those concerns in attack will only grow if they cannot become a more ruthless side between now and November 2022. Like their immaculate midfield, Spain are building, patiently, expertly, but without knowing quite where it will lead.

Spain's penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy will live long in the memory of Alvaro Morata for all the wrong reasons after his crucial failure from the spot, but La Roja wouldn't have even got to extra-time without the maligned striker's historic goal.

Roberto Mancini's Azzurri appeared to be heading to the final thanks to Federico Chiesa's gorgeous opener, but Morata – a second-half substitute – levelled in the 80th minute to force extra-time.

Morata had been dropped from the starting XI after being withdrawn early in the second half of the quarter-final against Switzerland.

Although the forward, on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, had been a regular source of frustration in Euro 2020, with his six Opta-defined big chances missed being more than any other player at the tournament, that decision still came as something as a surprise given Luis Enrique's staunch backing of him.

The coach was seemingly banking on the dynamism of Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal causing issues for Italy's aging centre-back pairing, but with Spain chasing the game he turned to the much-maligned striker.

Morata vindicated his introduction, with his fine goal taking him to three for Euro 2020 and six in all European Championship tournaments, setting a new record for La Roja.

His confident left-footed finish moves Morata ahead of Fernando Torres in that regard, while it also made him only the second player in Euros history to score three or more in multiple editions of the competition after Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Morata saw his spot-kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the shoot-out, the Italy goalkeeper diving to his left to easily keep the feeble attempt at bay. Jorginho coolly swept home his effort a few moments later to send the Azzurri into the final.

 

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