Italy wins the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on penalties.

Italy's forward Andrea Belotti poses with the European Championship trophy after Italy won the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021.
Italy's forward Andrea Belotti poses with the European Championship trophy after Italy won the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (AFP)

Italy inflicted heartbreak on England to win the Euro 2020 final after a penalty shoot-out at London's Wembley Stadium, with pundits and ex-players paying tribute afterwards to both teams.

England’s painful half-century wait for a major title goes on.

Italy won the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on Sunday. The match finished 1-1 after extra time.

Gianluigi Donnarumma dived to his left and saved the decisive spot kick by Bukayo Saka, England's third straight failure from the penalty spot in the shootout in front of its own fans.

Unbeaten run

It was less than four years ago that the Italians plunged to the lowest moment of its soccer history by failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. 

Now, they are the best team in Europe and on a national-record 34-match unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini, their suave coach.

READ MORE: Italy hold nerves to beat Spain on penalties in epic Euro 2020 semi-final

England was playing in its first major final in 55 years. It's the latest heartache in shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. 

England went ahead in the second minute when Luke Shaw scored the fastest goal in a European Championship final. Leonardo Bonucci equalised in the 67th.

Saka, a 19-year-old Londoner, was embraced by several England players after his miss. England coach Gareth Southgate hugged Jadon Sancho, who missed the previous England penalty, while Marcus Rashford — the other one to miss — walked off down the tunnel.

Luke Shaw gave England an early lead and Leonardo Bonucci equalised in the second half to send the game into extra time, but neither were able to add to their tally. 

"Football is a cruel, cruel game at times. Those boys have performed heroically for a month, such a shame that it has to come down to a situation like this," former England striker Alan Shearer said on the BBC.

READ MORE: British police tell fans not to gather for Euro final in London

'Unforgettable night'

Former Italy fullback Gianluca Zambrotta was gleeful.

"An unforgettable night for our Azzurri! What a fantastic achievement for Roberto Mancini and his team. They deserved to win this second Euro title, and their performance from the opening game in Rome one month ago has been perfect!" he said.

"You have added more history to our national team and you all should be very proud! Congrats Champions, now it’s time to celebrate all together!"

Rio Ferdinand, who played 81 times for England and scored three times, thanked Gareth Southgate's side for their efforts.

"Obviously, huge disappointment. But as you can see, the fans clapping the players. They have brought us a joy, that definitely my generation and below have never felt watching an England team," he said.

"They lifted the country up when we needed it. It's a harsh, harsh game when it gets to this stage. It's a painful way to lose it ... Italy will enjoy it and credit to them."

Former England midfielder Frank Lampard praised both sides.

"We've seen individuals and the (England) team grow. We've seen the nation grow behind the team. Italy controlled the elements of the game. We must give them credit. They deserve their victory," he said.

"The effort this England team put in, we felt it so dear to our hearts and we wanted them to get over the line. Finals are won by moments. It can go any way. Penalties are so tough. It's the nature of the game." 

READ MORE: England survive Denmark scare to reach Euro 2020 final

Dozens arrested

MeanwhileBritish police said that 19 of its officers were injured as they confronted volatile crowds while policing the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England on Sunday after fans clashed with each other and officials near Wembley stadium.

"We made 49 arrests during the day for a variety of offences. We will have officers on hand throughout the night", the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter on early Monday.

"Our policing operation for the Euro 2020 final is drawing to a close," it added.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies