England left-back Luke Shaw has vowed that he and the rest of the England squad will “be there” for Arsenal ace Bukayo Saka after he saw his penalty saved in last night’s Euro 2020 final shoot-out defeat to Italy.
Trailing 3-2 on spot-kicks and sudden death looming, Saka knew that he had to score to keep the Three Lions’ hopes of ending their 55-year wait to win a major tournament alive, after both Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho had failed to convert their earlier penalties.
Saka, who was the fifth penalty taker decided upon by manager Gareth Southgate, stepped up and saw his effort palmed away by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Italy goal, meaning the Italian’s won the shoot-out 3-2, after 120 minutes of nail-biting action had ended 1-1.
For Saka, it was a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching moment, which saw him break down in tears close to where he struck the ball from. He was soon consoled by his teammates and later Southgate, who knows just what it is like to miss a penalty in such a pressure moment.
But despite his heartbreak, Shaw, who fired England into the lead inside just two minutes, insists the whole squad will rally around Saka to keep his spirits up.
“He’s devastated,” said Shaw. “But the most important thing for us is to be there for him and give him a big hug, tell him to keep his head up.
“It’s a penalty shootout, anything can happen, but we’re all behind him.
“It’s an experience he will learn from it — not just him, but Rashy and Sancho also. We’re with them all, there’s no individuals, we’re together as a team.”
After Saka had missed from the spot, questions were asked as to why Southgate had opted to include Saka amongst his choices of designated penalty takers, with the Arsenal winger only 19-years-old and still learning his trade at the highest level.
However, Southgate soon leapt to the defence of his talented winger, insisting he would shoulder the blame.
Southgate said: “It is down to me.
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“I decided on the penalty-takers based on what they have done in training.
“Nobody is on their own. We have won together as a team and it is on all of us together to not be able to win this game.
“In terms of penalties, it is my call and it totally rests with me.”