Italy wins Euro Championship over England on penalty kicks

I’m not a fan of penalty kicks deciding a soccer game, let alone an entire tournament. But that was exciting! It was one of the more dramatic penalty shootouts in soccer history, as Italy completed its comeback to win the Euro Championship over England.

19-year-old Bukayo Saka missed the decisive penalty kick after Italy’s Jorginho had a chance to win it with the final kick, while Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also failed to convert. Rashford and Sancho were late substitutions just minutes prior to the end of extra time, calling into question the strategy of putting players immediately into a penalty situation with no chance to get into the feel of the game.

England took an early lead in the second minute, stunning the Italians, who then began a relentless assault in search of the equalizer. They finally found it in the 67th minute when Leonardo Bonucci tapped in a rebound shot.

This was another crushing defeat for England, while also representing redemption for Italy, one of soccer’s biggest powers that somehow failed to qualify for the last World Cup. Roberto Mancini resurrected the Italian side by finding a way to bring a more joyful and aggressive approach to a side that had become too cautious and unimaginative. This was quite a return to glory for Italy in a tournament filled with excitement. We can hardly wait for the World Cup next year!

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Italy dominates Turkey 3-0 in Euro opener

Italy had no trouble with Turney in the Euro Cup opener, dominating play throughout and ringing up three goals, putting the world on notice that the traditional soccer power is back after missing the last World Cup. Ciro Immobile was the catalyst for the Azzurri, forcing a Turkey own-goal and then coming back for a sweet goal off a rebound from the goalie.

Jersey kid Giuseppe Rossi makes Italian national team

ESPNsoccernet has a great profile of Giuseppe Rossi, a soccer player who grew up in New Jersey who landed a spot on Italy’s National Team for the 2010 World Cup. Many fans of USA soccer refer to him as “the one that got away,” since he would be a huge asset to the American team.

All that was left from a U.S. perspective was to wait and see how Rossi’s Italian dream played out. He didn’t make a single misstep. In the summer of 2007, Rossi was called in to play for Italy’s U21 team at the European championship. In the summer of 2008, he was called in to play for Italy in the Olympics and ended up the leading scorer in that under-23 competition. By October, it was official. Named to the senior Italian team for a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, Giuseppe Rossi became a member of the Azzurri. He would never be allowed to play for the USA.

Whatever people might say about his patriotism, Rossi’s achievement can’t be overstated. Not only is he one of only two players on the Italian squad who weren’t born in Italy, but by playing for Villarreal, in Spain’s La Liga, he’s also one of only two players who don’t earn their living with an Italian club. (That could change soon, as it’s hotly rumored that Rossi is headed back to Serie A this summer.) He has broken into one of the most exclusive clubs in sports, against very serious odds. “Rossi is a little champion,” Italy manager Marcello Lippi said last summer. “He can play with his left foot or right foot. He can play anywhere on the front line, the way Lionel Messi plays for Barcelona.”

High praise, to be sure. But while a spot for Rossi on Italy’s 23-man World Cup roster seems likely, there are no guarantees. Plus, with talented strikers like Antonio Di Natale and Alberto Gilardino ahead of him on Lippi’s depth chart, any minutes he sees in South Africa will likely come off the bench. That might not have been the case had he chosen a different, safer path. Even before the car accident that severely injured U.S. striker Charlie Davies, a forward of Rossi’s quality would have been getting serious minutes for the U.S. “He’s a talented young player,” says Bradley, choosing his words carefully so as not to disparage any of the strikers in his player pool. But Arena can be more blunt. “He’s certainly good enough to play for the U.S.,” says the former coach. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

When asked to recall the goal that made him the player American fans love to hate, Rossi gets flustered. He grew up admiring Derek Jeter, and like the Yankees captain, Rossi is a perfectly polite interview who loathes talking about himself. “It was great to score, of course, but if I could have picked any team in the world to score against, the United States would have been my last choice,” he says. “I root hard for America — against anyone but Italy.”

Hopefully he makes the final roster. It will be another cool storyline in what could be a great World Cup. Most Americans will be focused on the early match between Team USA and England, but Rossi may provide some more drama is he gets some playing time.


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