LONDON: Italy displayed nerves of steel in the shootout that decided the Euro 2020 final against England on Sunday, surviving two misses from the spot to edge a 3-2 victory on penalties that silenced the home fans at Wembley Stadium.
Having won the toss and decided to shoot first, Andrea Belotti missed Italy's second spot kick to set the visitors' nerves jangling, but three English misses, including two saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, saw them emerge victorious.
"It's a unique pleasure to see 58,000 people leave before the trophy presentation. Now the cup is coming to Rome. They thought it was staying here, I'm sorry for them but Italy has once again taught a lesson," defender Leonardo Bonucci told Italian broadcaster RAI.
Bonucci stepped up after Belotti's miss to fire home Italy's third penalty and put the spotlight back on England. Marcus Rashford hit a post before Federico Bernardeschi converted Italy's fourth spot kick.
Donnarumma then saved from Jadon Sancho and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford stopped Jorginho's effort to set up a nail-biting finish that saw the Italian save Bukayo Saka's effort to secure the trophy.
"We were extraordinary, we never gave up an inch. All of you know where we started from. This is an incredible thing, we are a fantastic team and we deserve it," Donnarumma told RAI.
The match finished 1-1 after extra time, forcing penalties.
Italy have suffered heartbreak in shootouts in the past, with Roberto Baggio missing from the spot in devastating fashion as Brazil won the 1994 World Cup final.
The Italians bounced back to win the 2006 World Cup by beating France 5-3 in a shootout, and 15 years later they have added the European title in similar fashion.
Though Donnarumma subsequently picked up the award for player of the tournament, Italy coach Roberto Mancini said their victory was not down to skill alone.
"You have to have a little luck on penalties. I feel a little sorry for England because they also had a great tournament. The (Italy) team has grown a lot and I think we can improve further," he said.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)