Leonardo Bonucci, who scored Italy’s tying goal and then converted his penalty kick in the shootout, got the last word on the “It’s coming home” set.
The title is Italy’s second in the Euros; the first came in 1968. Italy has won the World Cup twice, in fact, since it lifted the European Championship trophy.
England’s wait for a title, and a win over Italy in a big tournament, will go on.
“They should hold their heads high,” England Manager Gareth Southgate said of his players. “They have given absolutely everything and I’m very proud of them.”
Southgate absolved the England players who missed in the penalty shootout of blame for the defeat.
“What they have to know is that none of them are on their own — we win and lose as a team,” he said. “The penalty takers are my call. We’ve worked on them in training. That’s my decision. That’s not down to the players.
“Tonight, it hasn’t gone for us. But we know they were the best takers we had left on the pitch.”
Italy is in a tight huddle and England is a looser one as their coaching staff pick their penalty takers. But the tension ahead of the shootout is palpable. All that work, and it comes down to this.
Kane and Chiellini meet with Kuipers for the toss. Kane picks the end on the first coin flip, and chooses the goal in front of the England supporters. Chiellini elects to have Italy go first on the second toss.
We’ll just play this straight down the line here now, one by one, so keep refreshing:
Domenico Berardi goes first. AND SCORES!
Italy leads, 1-0.
Now it’s Harry Kane. KANE SCORES! 1-1.
Italy 1, England 1.
Belotti for Italy. PICKFORD SAVES!
Still tied, 1-1.
Harry Maguire. MAGUIRE SCORES!
England 2, Italy 1.
Bonucci for Italy. BONUCCI SCORES!
Italy 2, England 2.
Marcus Rashford now. HE HITS THE POST!
Italy 2, England 2. Advantage gone.
Bernardeschi for Italy. SCORES!
Italy 3, England 2.
Sancho up next. SAVED BY DONNARUMMA!!
Italy 3, England 2.
Italy can win it here.
Jorginho. Who beat Spain. Who takes Chelsea’s penalties. For the win.
Watch for the hop.
PICKFORD SAVES! He read it and pushed it onto the post!!
What a moment!
Italy 3, England 2.
Bukayo Saka for England.
He must score.
ITALY HAS WON THE EUROS!!!
120 + 3’
Full time. Breathe everyone. Don’t. Forget. To breathe.
THREE MINUTES OF ADDED TIME!
Last sub for Italy: Florenzi for Emerson, which is surely a play about penalties and not the last two minutes.
Southgate brings Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford to the touchline for the same reason. He want them on the field in five minutes more than he needs them right now.
Henderson goes off for Rashford. Walker is sacrificed for Sancho, one of the brightest young talents of his generation.
And then England nearly botches it all by losing Locatelli at the near post on the corner. He can’t connect on what would have been an easy winner if he had. Woof.
Grealish goes down in a heap right in front of the referee, who surely must have noticed that Jorginho came in hard and stamped right on the England midfielder’s thigh as they both went in for the ball. (Grealish won it comfortably, and then lost the challenge, quite uncomfortably.)
Jorginho aught Grealish’s other knee too: a very dangerous challenge, and probably ought to be a yellow.
Which it is.
Oh man Chiellini just put on a defending clinic after he was beaten — ever so briefly — by Sterling at the end line. All legs and positioning and experience and exertion, but he did what he always seems to do: he won the ball, and saved Italy’s neck.
Two golden chances to win it by England! The first was a shot by Grealish into traffic, but that was stopped. Cycling the ball around, Kane then spins in a cross for John Stones. But it’s juuuuuuuuust over his forehead, and Donnarumma punches clear.
That’s as close as England has come in an hour.
If Grealish scores the winner they should abolish the post of England manager and just do everything by public vote.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) July 11, 2021
We’re 15 minutes from the shootout. Could it be destiny now?
Tweet! Tweeeeeet! That’s it for the first extra period.
We’re halfway to a shootout, which would be only the second in the history of the Euros. The first, in 1976, gave birth to the Panenka.
105 + 1’
An Italian handball offers a free kick to England in the dying seconds … Shaw is over it …
Almost through the first extra period, Italy almost steals it: Emerson whips in a ball from the edge of the area and Bernardeschi — sailing through the air right in front of Pickford — somehow doesn’t collide with it.
What a relief for England there. You could watch that four times and still not understand how … something didn’t go right/wrong (depending on your view) there.
Jack Grealish, England’s favorite player for the last month, even when he didn’t play, has stripped off his warmups and is preparing to come on. The Aston Villa star brings creativity and fresh legs and, maybe, some good mojo. Mount departs.
Remember: It was a substitute, Éder, who won the last Euros, for Portugal in 2016.
Nasty foul by Emerson on Henderson there, setting a pick for Bernardeschi.
On the sideline, Locatelli slips on, replacing Verratti.
Another change from Italy: Torino’s Andrea Belotti comes on for Insigne up front. Fresh legs to run at a weary England back line.
That means it’s an entirely changed Italy attack: Belotti, Bernardeschi and Berardi for Immobile, Chiesa and Insigne.
Kuipers blows his whistle and shoulders drop across the field. We’re headed to extra time, just like the two semifinals.
From Rory at Wembley:
Quite how England lost control of a game it had in its palms is not easily parsed. For an hour, maybe a little more, Gareth Southgate would have had cause to be quietly — he knows no other way — satisfied. Italy had the ball, but England not just the lead, but some measure of control, too.
That it ebbed away might be tactical: Roberto Mancini’s throwing on Domenico Berardi for the ineffectual Ciro Immobile. It might be physical: England had burned out a little in the first 20 minutes or so, and was now paying the price for its fire and fury.
But more than anything, it was emotional: England dropped just a little too far, and Italy had a little too much space to play in; a couple of glimmers of goal were enough to revive hope in Mancini’s team. Leonardo Bonucci’s equalizer was the reward; for a few minutes, until the injury to Federico Chiesa drew the sting from the game, it seemed to have the bit between its teeth.
England, from here, will dread penalties more than Italy. But England has the deeper resources in reserve to avoid them. The question may be when Southgate chooses to use them.
90 + 6’
Wow: Chiellini gets a yellow for a horse-collar tackle on Saka on the sideline. That sets up one last free kick … could it happen …?
Nope. Italy clears it, and there’s the whistle from Kuipers.
Is there one chance left here? Italy are working the ball around in England’s half like a basketball team working for the last shot. Are they running the clock for one final push before we go to extra time, or just making sure England doesn’t get a last look?
Six minutes of injury time. Hoo boy.
A fan running onto the field briefly delays the game, and a few players stifle a chuckle as they watch the pursuit.
Now we get the sub: Federico Bernardeschi sprints on as Chiesa limps off. He’s not happy, but he also is clearly in no position to continue.
Chiesa is working with the trainers to see if he can continue, but Italy has a sub up anyway.
Losing Chiesa, their best offensive player today, on the eve of extra time would be a blow.
For now, he stays, jogging back on.
A wild, veering run by Chiesa nearly slices open the England defense, but Walker hustles back to break things up just in time. Chiesa is down, and making his case — strenuously, and loudly — that he is there because someone kicked him.
While he receives treatment, everyone else takes a deep breath. Or five.
That was more trouble than England would like to admit: a long deep lead ball meets Berardi behind the England defense, but he can’t control it and get it on target.
Southgate hedges his bets with another sub in the aftermath of that chance: Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool captain and a player Southgate loves and relies on, comes Declan Rice, who put in a long hard day but will watch from the bench to see how it ends now.
Southgate now goes for the reverse: Trippier off, and Bukayo Saka comes on. He’s a much more offensive player, and England needs a goal now.
What a disaster for England after all that work.
England’s Maguire surrenders a corner after some lazy defending up top allows a cross in. But he knew why that was a problem.
The corner comes in hard and low, and is nodded on to the back post. Chiellini tries to do something but goes down in a tangle and the ball pops free in front after Verratti sends it toward goal and off the post. Bonucci, Chiellini’s back-line mate, is first to the free rebound of Verratti’s shot and he buries the tying goal past Pickford.
We’re tied, 1-1, and England’s party has just taken a dark turn.
GOAL! Italy are even!!!
Italy is driving the game now as we enter the final 30 minutes, and England effectively pivots into a ‘careful, watch out, carefullllllll’ type of situation.
They’ll want to be more careful than they just were there, however: Chiesa worked across the top of the area touch by touch until he found enough space to rip a shot that forced a diving stop by Pickford. That’s Pickford’s best moment, and a perfect time for it.
Italy is right back in England’s area after that, though, with Chiesa and then Insigne taking looks. Insigne actually gets a shot as far as Pickford, but he parries it from close range.
That was a good exchange for Italy, though, perhaps the first time they have cut through that cluttered English center.
We may see more of that now: England promptly settles into a straight 5-4-1 to fend off Italy, with two banks of defenders and Kane up front, trying to harass.
Bonucci picks up a yellow now, giving England a dangerous free kick way out on the left. But it falls harmlessly and danger is averted.
First subs now: Immobile off, for Domenico Berardi (that was coming) and Barella (recently carded) replaced by Bryan Cristante.
Well this is trouble for England: Sterling now arrives late and chops down Insigne at the top of the circle. Great chance for Italy, which could use one.
Ooooooooohhhhhhh ... Insigne takes it, but curls his right-footed shot just outside the frame of the goal.
Pickford, who gave up his first goal of the tournament against Denmark in a similar spot, will be the most relieved there.
Sterling takes a ball from Shaw in a bit of space in the area and turns between Bonucci and Chiellini. Sensing contact, he hurls himself to the ground and rises screaming for a penalty. But the referee, Bjorn Kuipers of the Netherlands, isn’t buying and waves play on.
Nicolò Barella is the first player in the referee’s notebook: He gets a yellow for a clumsy challenge on Kane.
Italy is back out first, and Harry Kane leads England back up the tunnel. As he hits the grass, he does a few quick-step bursts to get loose.
England’s players have to love where they are right now. Now if they can just hold on …..
One final burst for each side but not actual shots on target come of it and we’re at the break. Phew.
Rory Smith checks in from Wembley:
England would not have dared imagine it could be like that. One attack, two minutes, and it had the lead. Luke Shaw tore across the field in celebration and Wembley released half a century’s worth of hope and despair into the sky. If the run to the final has felt like an out-of-body experience, then that was the moment it transcended into pure fantasy.
The more telling aspect of the game, though, is that England has approached the 43 minutes that have followed with a dogged, resolute professionalism. Wembley might still be levitating, but Gareth Southgate’s players have remained firmly rooted in reality. It has picked and chosen its moments to attack; it has been unperturbed in defense.
Italy, for a while, seemed shell-shocked: conceding so early, falling behind in a match for the first time in the tournament — for the first time in years — seeing its game plan rendered almost entirely irrelevant within 120 seconds. As the half went on, it grew, a little, in confidence. Marco Verratti and Jorginho started to exert some control in midfield. The bulldozing Federico Chiesa sent jitters through the crowd once or twice.
But it has yet to land so much as a glancing blow on England. And, for once, England does not seem to be in the mood to undermine itself.
55 years has been reduced to 45 minutes, and there is little, really, to suggest that the dream will be denied.
A Wembley Stadium official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the news media, said the stadium had been breached in at least two separate places before Sunday’s Euro 2020 final between England and Italy.
“There was a breach of security and a small group of people got into the stadium,” the official said. “We are now working closely with stadium stewards and security to remove these people. Anyone inside the stadium without a ticket will be instantly ejected.”
The breaches allowed scores of people to stampede into the arena. Earlier, a spokesperson for the stadium had said there had not been “security breaches of people without tickets getting into the stadium.”
A larger issue may await stadium security after the match: Thousands of ticketless fans remained camped out in the open areas around the stadium, waiting — they hope — to take part in an England victory celebration after the game.
Some fans who had tickets were receiving treatment for their injuries after getting caught up in trouble. “I was next in line to get my ticket scanned and the crowds rushed through after they opened the doors,” said Jordan Hernandez, 19.
Steven Long, 33, from Newcastle, said he witnessed more than 100 people storm through one gate.
“They barged through the disabled entrance as soon as they saw an opportunity,” Long said. He was accompanying a friend who had blood on his left his leg from a cut he sustained after being knocked to the floor.
45 + 1’
Immobile, for the first time, frees himself to meet a ball and take a whack. But his shot goes straight into a defender, and the follow up is a low, weak roller that Pickford scoops up like a toddler running into his father’s arms.
A bit of late pressure there from Emerson, but England collapses so well the chance just vanished into the crowd.
Four minutes of added time coming before the break.
Southgate’s decision to send out three center backs, protected by Phillips and Rice in midfield, looks like a masterstroke after 40 minutes. The two wing backs, Trippier and Shaw, combined on a goal in the first two minutes, and Italy is paralyzed in the center. Immobile isn’t holding the ball up, and the five England players in his neighborhood swarm him and any other hint of danger every time it arises.
Mancini will have some work to do at halftime.
Italy’s latest effort? Chiellini and Bonucci, its two center backs, took up places alongside Immobile and lingered after the last hard-won free kick, hoping that someone, somewhere, might cycle the action around and loft in a ball they could drive at.
That’s the best chance yet from Italy: Chiesa fights off a challenge from Declan Rice at midfield and, head down, charges straight at the England defense. He gets off a really nice effort, too, right as he arrives at the top of the area, but it fizzes just wide of Pickford’s goal.
There was optimism AND frustration in that. But it almost worked.
A really nice opportunity from England’s three attackers three: Kane heads on to Sterling, who feeds ahead to Mount, who tries to cut it back neatly into Sterling’s path at the top of the area.
Almost worked, too, but Italy scrambled to avert danger.
We’ve just checked and Ciro Immobile is in fact on the field. You wouldn’t know it, though. He’s been invisible.
And while Italy is starting to get a little bit of control in the midfield, they’re going to need something more — something at all — from their center forward. Or they may want to look down the bench at halftime and see if there’s someone who might do a little more.
The game’s frantic pace has slowed a little, in part because of a small break while Jorginho was treated for a minor injury. Players from both sides took advantage of the pause to refresh themselves, while Italy worried about Jorginho, a player it cannot afford to lose.
He has returned, but keep an eye on him.
That’s better from Italy for a moment there, with Jorginho, the Chelsea midfielder, picking out Emerson on the left wing behind Walker and Trippier.
Emerson, alas, was offside. And now England is back on the hunt.
Now it’s Shaw, with Mount, free on the left. Italy forces it out by conceding a corner, but it is absolutely reeling right now from this pressure.
You almost feel another goal might be coming ….
Italy looks like it would very much like a timeout right now.
Another cross in from the right from Trippier nearly finds Sterling at the penalty spot, but Chiellini arrives and cuts it off.
But two minutes later he is out there tormenting Emerson anew.
Luke Shaw gives England a dream start, combining with Trippier — the only change to the lineup — to make Southgate look like a genius.
Kane made the play happen, sweeping a ball forward in the midfield circle and out to the right wing. But Italy’s defense was curiously inactive in doing anything to slow the play down, or break it up.
So Trippier pulled up at the top of the area, right near the corner, and picked out Shaw at the far post, who was literally waving to him asking for the ball. He met the inch-perfect pass with his left foot and — cool as ice — just slid the ball past Donnarumma.
Watch that again, just focusing on Shaw (No. 3) at the bottom of the video. He never stopped running, asked for the ball, got it, and then skimmed it in off the short hop. Just a terrific, terrific effort start to finish.
And just like that, England leads, 1-0.
It’s the fastest goal ever in the Euro final.
GOAL! England leads through Luke Shaw!!!
England gives up a needless corner after a nervous touch by Harry Maguire. Whoops. But he makes up for it by clearing the ball as it arrives on the spot.
England, for one last time, takes the knee before kickoff in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Italy does the same.
And the ball rolls ….
Italy is in its traditional blue shirts and black shorts. England is head to toe in white.
The teams are on the field, which is pristine as usual.
Italy’s anthem is first, and some in the England crowd … boo it. Not a great look, but not an uncommon one. The Italians absolutely don’t care, though; they’re belting it out like it’s the last time they’ll hear it.
“God Save the Queen” gets a far different, far more thunderous response. But with those done, here we go.
Harry Kane and Giorgio Chiellini meet for the coin toss. Kane can still win the Golden Boot (so can Raheem Sterling) if he can get a couple today.
It’s raining in London now as a British military flyover soars about Wembley’s open roof trailing the colors of the Union Jack.
As we wait for kickoff, remember that while England has the crowd and the home field, Italy arrives with a 33-match unbeaten streak and a mind-set that it doesn’t have to back down from any team.
“It’s not necessarily about doing better,” Roberto Mancini said this week. “The key is to hit your normal level. Lots of teams in finals end up under-performing.”
England Manager Gareth Southgate admitted this week that he has had to fight the impulse to envision a triumph that would be his country’s first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
“At the back of your mind you always have to have a bit of a vision on how you would like to see the end and play that out,” he said. “But the reality is you have to focus on the processes and focus on the performance and that’s what we have always done with this team.”
LONDON — Wembley Stadium was locked down briefly two hours before Sunday’s Euro 2020 final after fans rushed past security officials outside the stadium and tried to enter the arena.
The fans appeared to overwhelm an outnumbered security detachment, with some racing up stairways or into the stadium concourses as they tried to gain access to the match.
Efforts being made to restore the fences that were torn down. But security staff expect this to keep happening throughout the evening. pic.twitter.com/eEfDkKrPCt— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) July 11, 2021
Officers on horseback soon flooded the area as security staff members reinforced the barriers that had been breached.
The police had worried about the prospect of having thousands of ticketless fans turn up at Wembley after hundreds found their way into England’s semifinal victory against Denmark on Wednesday. The stadium’s capacity — normally about 90,000 — has been reduced to about 66,000 on Sunday as part of a pandemic accommodation with British public health officials.
Dan Tyler, an England fan from Romford in east London, said he saw the stadium perimeter breached on three occasions. His son Oliver, 10, described himself as “petrified” as the police and stadium security worked to restore order and repair fences that had been torn down.
“The stewards got smashed,” Dan Tyler said. “They just got steamrollered.”
Some staff and volunteers, including a group that had been assigned to help disabled fans and those in wheelchairs, were told to lock down and not venture outside of the stadium concourse. Stadium stewards described how some of those involved in the breach managed to make it inside the stadium by pushing through behind fans that held tickets.
Elsewhere in London on Sunday, tens of thousands of fans spent the day warming up for the final in pubs and bars that were either fully pre-booked or filled up as soon as they opened.
At the Crooked Billet, a pub in east London, soccer fans were already lining up at 6:30 a.m. when the owner, Michael Buurman, arrived to prepare for a busy day. By midmorning, he said, thousands of people were standing in line to get in. “It’s been insane, and we’re still hours away from the game,” he said on Sunday afternoon. By then, more 6,000 pints had already been sold.
A festive atmosphere has already filled London’s streets early in the day, with cars honking and fans chanting, but as the alcohol flowed and day went on, the mood shifted in places. But in Leicester Square and other areas of central London, garbage filled the streets where fans had gathered before heading to Wembley, and the sound of cheers and songs mixed with that of breaking glass as bottles and other items were tossed in the air.
Clashes between inebriated fans broke out in Trafalgar Square and other parts of the city as outnumbered police officers, although patrolling en masse, struggled to keep the situation from getting out of hand. And at Wembley, the situation was tense after the security breach.
The Metropolitan Police has urged people to behave safely, reminding that London was still in a public health crisis, and that the terror threat remained substantial, with an attack “likely,” it said.
“If you don’t have a ticket to the matches or fan zone or an official booking for a pub, bar or club my message is clear: Please do not come to London,” the deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said in a statement.
Sunday’s final will draw the largest attendance of this year’s European Championship. Scores of supporters, many not wearing masks, also packed trains to London on Sunday to gather in the city’s most central spots like London Bridge or Leicester Square.
Research released this week showed that men in England were currently 30 percent more likely to be infected with the coronavirus than women. One of the report’s co-authors suggested that the higher rates of infections among men were likely explained by changes in social behaviors like watching soccer.
Britain reported another 31,772 coronavirus cases on Sunday, and 26 deaths.
— Elian Peltier and Tariq Panja
The starting lineups are out and England’s Gareth Southgate has made only one change: bringing in the reliable back Kieran Trippier in place of Bukayo Saka, a more adventurous midfielder, as a counter to Italy’s attack.
That could allow England to play in a 3-4-3, a system it has used before, with a back three of Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire and Trippier and Luke Shaw working the wings next to Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips.
That could be viewed as caution on Southgate’s part — it is clearly a more defensive team. But there is also a view that it could be an effort to lock down the center, and prevent Italian attackers like Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne from cutting into spaces inside, while his wing backs try to overwhelm Italy’s defense at the other end of the field.
“England have set up not to lose,” the former England midfielder Steve McManaman complained on ESPN. But, playing on home soil, in front of a boisterous crowd, isn’t that the goal? We’ll see.
The strategy’s success — or failure — may turn out to be the final word on Southgate’s tournament.
England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Luke Shaw; Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane.
Italy’s Roberto Mancini has made no changes, sticking with the team that he sent out for the semifinal victory against Spain.
Italy: Gianluigi Donnarumma; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Emerson Palmieri; Nicolò Barella, Jorginho, Marco Verratti; Federico Chiesa, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne.
— Andrew Das
England has been waiting for some time. More than half a century, in fact. Its mood, over the decades, has veered between frustrated and furious, hopeful and resigned. It has endured countless false starts and even more false dawns. It has, in a way, grown quite good at waiting. It is only now that the impatience has set in. After all those years, it is the last few hours that have proved the hardest.
Leicester Square, right in the heart of London, was thronged from late in the morning on Sunday, wreathed in the cordite smoke of flares and fireworks. Fans had started arriving on Wembley Way, in the shadow of the stadium that will host tonight’s final of Euro 2020, earlier even than that. Long lines snaked out of pubs around the country almost as soon as they opened.
But perhaps the best gauge of the mood of the nation — the mixture of foot-tapping restiveness and dazed giddiness that has set in over the last few days — is that, in the middle of it all, the Queen (or at least her social media team) showed her support for Gareth Southgate’s team by issuing a tweet that contained nothing but three lion emojis.
She had written a more formal note, too, congratulating the team not just on reaching the final but on the way it had comported itself on the way there. There had been a message from Prince William, the ceremonial head of England’s Football Association, and another from Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister. The country has spent a week humming Neil Diamond and “Three Lions” and Atomic Kitten. England jerseys have sold out. So, too, apparently, has Southgate’s favored polka-dot tie.
Ordinarily, where England is concerned, any amount of euphoria is reflexively tempered by caution and by strife: The fear of what might be lost tends to outweigh the hope of what might be won. And yet, for all that there is a respect for its opponent, Italy, with its grizzled central defenders and its inventive midfield and its illustrious history, there is no sense of impending doom.
Indeed, even the suggestion that Southgate might change his team — drafting in Kieran Trippier, a defender, for the forward Bukayo Saka, better to stifle Italy’s threat — has been greeted with acquiescence.
That is a measure of how Southgate has performed over the last month: He has made big decisions and been vindicated repeatedly. Even an English public conditioned to expect the worst has managed, just about, to suspend its disbelief.
But it is also, perhaps, a sign of how this team is now viewed: not, like previous incarnations, as an uneasy and mercurial blend of disparate talent that is prone to collapse as soon as conditions are not favorable, but as a sleek, smart, stubborn side, one imbued with a sense of purpose and a confidence in its approach. It does not feel it is here by chance; its self-assurance has diffused around the country.
Italy, certainly, will be its greatest test, a level above any team it has played thus far in this tournament, a side no less self-possessed, one with no less sense of destiny. England will need to be as good as it thinks it is to win. There are still hours to go. All the country can do, for now, is wait.
— Rory Smith
Earlier this week, Natasha Hamilton sent a message to everyone she could think of, urging them to buy or download or stream the song her band, Atomic Kitten, had just released. “Let’s get this to No. 1 on Sunday,” she told them. When they started replying, she said on Instagram Live, she was surprised to discover that the charts are now released on Friday.
It has, for Atomic Kitten, been a while. The band’s big moment came almost 20 years ago; for much of the last decade or so, though they have toured frequently and become a fixture on the nostalgia circuit, they have rarely troubled the charts. That changed, almost in an instant, this week.
One of the band’s biggest hits — “Whole Again,” a No. 1 single in 2001 — has long since been adapted by England fans as a homage to the team’s coach, Gareth Southgate. When a video of Hamilton and her bandmate, Liz McClarnon, performing it to a crowd of England fans at a venue in Croydon, south London, went viral last weekend, the band hurriedly decided to record, and release, the new version.
It broke into the Top 40 within a few hours of its release. It was at No. 36 when Hamilton started her Instagram Live, on Wednesday; by the time McClarnon joined her, a few minutes later, it had risen to 24th. “Crazy,” Hamilton said. “I’m 39 this month. It is not normal for a woman of that age to succeed in the pop industry. I’m beyond proud.”
Atomic Kitten is not the only band riding that wave. The charts — far more fragmented than they were in the group’s heyday — encapsulate how pervasive the impact of England’s success has been on the country’s cultural life. “Three Lions,” initially released in 1996, currently sits 21st in the official chart; it is fourth in the iTunes chart.
“Sweet Caroline,” the Neil Diamond song that booms out before and after games at Wembley, is second in that ranking, and Hamilton and her bandmates were fifth with their new release (“Whole Again” itself is 30th).
Acts as varied in style and merit as Fat Les, New Order and the hip-hop duo Krept and Konan have risen steadily, too, with soccer-inflected or soccer-associated songs.
The most curious new standard, and certainly the least English one, is “Sweet Caroline,” a Neil Diamond hit that came out in 1969 — three years after England’s last major tournament championship, the 1966 World Cup.
“It’s kind of become like a good-luck charm in this tournament,” said Tony Perry, who has been the D.J. for the matches at Wembley Stadium.
“Sweet Caroline” may seem like an odd anthem for sports fans. It’s a love song, and the lyrics (“Good times never seemed so good!”) are sentimental. But there’s something about the way the bridge builds to a soaring chorus that always seems to lift spectators out of their seats.
So Perry was not surprised when the song got another jubilant response on Wednesday, after England beat Denmark, 2-1, in extra time, to reach the final. Diamond, too, said he was happy to hear it again, and that he had been watching videos online of fans’ belting it out.
“It’s a song to celebrate good things, and it seems to bring good luck to those who embrace it,” Diamond said. “It’s also a song of unity and can bring together even the fiercest of competitors. But of course I want England to win because I love the way they sing it with such gusto.”
— Rory Smith and Jacey Fortin
There are a lot of things that everybody knows about Harry Kane. There is the fact that he is the captain of England’s national soccer team, a status that bestows upon its bearer the sort of profile unavailable to most athletes, particularly in tournament years. It is part-of-the-furniture fame, royal family fame. Everyone has heard of Harry Kane.
Then there are the goals. Harry Kane scores goals with startling efficiency. He scores goals with both feet and with his head. He scores goals from close range and from long distance, for good teams and bad. He does not really seem to be subject to things like form or confidence. He simply started scoring goals seven years ago and never stopped.
He currently scores them for Tottenham Hotspur, but that, too, may be changing soon. In the buildup to Euro 2020, a drip feed of interviews has made it clear that, in Harry Kane’s mind, he may need to move on after this summer, if he is to fulfill his ambition of winning collective awards, rather than individual ones.
There is one other thing we know about Kane, though, after the last month, one thing that stands out above all otherse.
“England is No. 1 for me,” Kane said in an interview with The New York Times weeks before the Euros. “It is the biggest thing you can achieve. I dreamed of playing for England, but I also dreamed of winning something for England. That is on top of my list.
“You play Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues every year, but a major tournament only comes around once every two years. The window is a lot smaller. To win something with England: That would be No. 1.”
— Rory Smith
The battle for the Golden Boot, awarded to the tournament’s top scorer, will be decided today, and the England forwards Harry Kane (four goals) and Raheem Sterling (three) seem to be the only two players left with a realistic chance to catch the current leaders, Patrick Schick and Cristiano Ronaldo, who both scored five before departing Euro 2020.
But in reality the race for the tournament’s top scorer has been over for weeks, and the own goal has won it going away.
There have been 11 own goals at Euro 2020, more than the combined total that were scored in the 15 previous editions of the European Championship.
Own goals in #Euro2020: 11.
Own goals at the Euros of 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 & 2016, combined: 9.— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) July 7, 2021
There have been unlucky goals. Strange goals. Slap-your-forehead goals. They have been scored by midfielders and defenders and goalkeepers.
In retrospect, the tournament’s first goal — an Italy cross turned into Turkey’s net by one of its defenders, Merih Demiral — was probably an omen we all should have taken more seriously.
That marked the first time the tournament had opened its account with a player scoring against his own team, but in the four weeks since that night, the own goals have kept coming. Spain was the beneficiary of two of them in a 5-0 win over Slovakia, and Portugal managed to score two on itself — only four minutes apart — in a 4-2 loss to Germany.
Pedri’s, the opening goal in Spain’s memorable round-of-16 victory against Croatia, might have been the worst of the bunch …
… but it had some solid competition for that title:
The most recent one, No. 11 overall, even helped send Denmark out in the semifinals:
Will the final get us to an even dozen? One would hope not. England, for one, would never live it down.
— Andrew Das
BEDFORD, England — Whoever wins on Sunday, one English town will be celebrating: Bedford, home to one of England’s largest Italian communities, has been limbering up for what many hope will be “a friendly game” — with, still, a victory for Italy in the end.
“Italy won Eurovision; now it’s time to win the Euros,” Joseph Lionetti, 27, said as he served coffees and Italian sandwiches at the family-owned Piazza cafe in central Bedford.
Lionetti, whose father, Liberato, is Italian and whose mother is English, said he was feeling “50-50” about the match: a victory for Italy would be great, he said, and one for England, “just fine.”
About 14,000 Bedford residents, or one fifth of the town’s population, are either Italian or of Italian descent. On Sunday morning, there were as many Italian jerseys out as English ones.
“There might be some bickering and ‘Ha Ha, you lost!’ tonight,” Liberato Lionetti said in the kitchen of La Piazza cafe. “But tomorrow we’ll be working together again.”
The Italian community grew in Bedford in the 1950s, when workers from southern Italy came to fill the town’s brickworks factory. Now pizzerias, gelato shops and Italian cafes fill the city center, and Bedford has earned the nickname of England’s Little Italy.
Alfonso Bravoco, the owner of the Mamma Concetta pizzeria, said he had to turn down all customers looking for a table on Sunday: His restaurant will be closed.
“My staff is all Italian, they’re not going to enjoy the game if they have to work,” he said. (Mr. Bravoco said he would watch the game at a cousin’s home in London that will be filled with Italian fans.)
For every Italy win, the tradition in Bedford has been to head down the town’s riverside to honk car horns, dance and wave Italian flags. That hasn’t come without kerfuffles in the past.
English and Italian fans clashed in Bedford in 2012 when Italy defeated England in the quarterfinals of the European Championship, and in 2014, English fans burned an Italian flag after Italy defeated England in a group stage game at the World Cup. The local police force urged resident to be “sensible” and behave responsibly on Sunday, no matter how the game turned out.
Still, some Italian fans said they would stay at home even if Italy wins because of the previous incidents. “It’s always a minority causing trouble, but I can’t risk it with the children, so we’ll be celebrating at home,” Massimo Ciampi said as he welcomed friends — Italian and English — into his house for a soccer party.
This week, Italian business owners like Lionetti and Bravoco have encouraged supporters from both sides to show fair play on Sunday night. “We’re lucky to be able to celebrate, we’re lucky to even have this tournament in the first place,” Lionetti said. “England and Italy have had some rough time lately,” he said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the town’s square on Sunday, nervous supporters from both sides mingled one last time before the final. “If England wins, I’ll go home crying my eyes out,” said the 74-year-old Pasquale Iantosca, sitting on a bench with friends gathering around to consult him on his predictions.
“Come on,” said Steven Brown, a 53-year-old English fan, “How long have you been here?”
It’s been 65 years, Iantosca said as he caressed the top of his Italy hat and unzipped his jacket to unveil a shirt from Italy’s last trophy, in the 2006 World Cup.
“Forza Azzurri,” he said, grinning.
— Elian Peltier