Penalties is such a cruel way to decide a football game – no less, an international final.
But sadly, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. After 120 minutes failed to separate England and Italy, the game went down to a penalty shootout.
When both Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missed their penalties, 19-year-old Bukayo Saka had to step up to keep England in it.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, however, had other ideas. The Italian keeper guessed right and saved the all important spot kick. His save meant Italy would lift the trophy and Saka would be left devastated.
The team spirit in this England camp has been spoken a lot about during this tournament and in this most difficult moment it came shining through again.
Saka was instantly surrounded by his teammates – notably substitutes Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ben Chilwell, Tyrone Mings and Ben White, were quick to comfort him. Though a number of other squad and staff members were also there to offer support to the visibly devastated winger.
Gareth Southgate – a man who knows the pain of a big penalty miss better than most – was also fast to console Saka, embracing him and offering some words of comfort.
Arsenal shared their support for their star talent, writing on Twitter: “Football can be so cruel. But for your personality. For your character. For your bravery… We’ll always be proud of you. And we can’t wait to have you back with us, @BukayoSaka87”
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Saka, Sancho, and Rashford can all hold their heads high, despite the miss. It takes real courage to step up in such a pressured moment. They are all young men, and will hopefully be in the team again for the 2022 World Cup.