Italy 1-1 England (aet, 3-2 pens): Donnarumma's shootout heroics clinch Euro 2020

By Sports Desk July 11, 2021

Gianluigi Donnarumma was Italy's hero as he saved from Bukayo Saka to clinch a 3-2 penalty shootout victory over England after a 1-1 draw in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley. 

Jordan Pickford saved two of Italy's spot-kicks, yet it was his counterpart who came up with the goods to clinch the Azzurri's second European Championship title. 

It was a night that started so well for England, with Luke Shaw scoring the quickest goal in a Euro final. 

Yet mounting Italy pressure told when Leonardo Bonucci scored midway through the second half, and after late substitutes Marcus Rashford hit the post and Jadon Sancho failed to beat Donnarumma in the shootout, Saka fell foul of Italy's goalkeeper as England suffered heartbreak on home soil.

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  • Salernitana 0-3 Juventus: Vlahovic stars as resurgent Bianconeri bounce back Salernitana 0-3 Juventus: Vlahovic stars as resurgent Bianconeri bounce back

    Juventus returned to winning ways in Serie A after Dusan Vlahovic scored two and assisted the other in a comfortable 3-0 victory at Salernitana on Tuesday.

    Massimiliano Allegri's side, seemingly shaken by their 15-point deduction, had not won any of their previous three league games but responded with a dominant performance at Stadio Arechi.

    Vlahovic's 28th-minute penalty set the visiting Bianconeri on their way before the Serbia international fortuitously assisted compatriot Filip Kostic on the stroke of half-time.

    Star man Vlahovic added his second after 47 minutes as victory moved a resurgent Juve up to 10th, albeit some 13 points behind fourth-placed Lazio.

    Vlahovic headed an inviting Mattia De Sciglio cross over in an otherwise uneventful opening, but the striker made amends just before the half-hour mark.

    A needless foul inside the area from Juve loanee Hans Nicolussi on Fabio Miretti offered the visitors the chance of the breakthrough, and Vlahovic powered in from the penalty spot with the help of Guillermo Ochoa's left post.

    Vlahovic then wastefully dragged wide and made a similar connection with a poor right-footed volley, only for the latter miscued attempt to find Kostic, who poked in the second goal at the back post.

    A delicate Nicolo Fagioli throughball teed up Vlahovic to add to his tally after the interval, the striker slotting a cool left-footed finish low past the onrushing Ochoa.

    Angel Di Maria's fizzing strike cannoned against the crossbar and Moise Kean was denied by Ochoa's left post as Juve returned to form in emphatic fashion.

    What does it mean? Juve back on track after Allegri warning

    A 5-1 thrashing by runaways leaders Napoli and a 2-0 surprise defeat to Monza in Juve's last three league games, either side of a 3-3 draw with Atalanta, had caused Allegri some concern.

    With Juve docked 15 points following an investigation into past transfer dealings, Allegri warned the Bianconeri they must first hit the 40-point mark to stave off an unlikely relegation.

    Juve took a step towards doing that with an assured performance to move onto 26 points, though they have significant ground to make up for a place in Europe, trailing Italy's top six by 12.

    Vlahovic's Salernitana hot streak continues

    Vlahovic has now scored five goals in four league matches against Salernitana, with a brace for Fiorentina and three strikes for new club Juve, including his double in this game.

    The first-half strike was Vlahovic's 14th goal from the spot from 15 attempts in Serie A – the best success rate (93 per cent) among players to take 15 or more penalties in the competition since his debut in 2018.

    Concern for Miretti

    Promising young midfielder Miretti won the penalty for Vlahovic's opener before leaving the field on a stretcher after 40 minutes with what appeared a concerning lower-leg injury.

    The 19-year-old, who has enjoyed his breakthrough season for Juve this term, suffered the injury in a tackle with Boulaye Dia, and Allegri will be hoping the blow was not as bad as it first appeared.

    What's next?

    Juve are at home to Fiorentina on Sunday, while Salernitana visit Hellas Verona the following day.

  • Super Bowl LVII: The matchups that could decide the destination of the Lombardi Trophy Super Bowl LVII: The matchups that could decide the destination of the Lombardi Trophy

    American football, its exponents are often fond of saying, is the ultimate team sport. With victory requiring 46 players spread across offense, defense and special teams to perform as close to their best as possible and frequently contingent on telepathic understanding between players executing blocking schemes, route concepts, pass coverages and pressure packages, it is tough to find a flaw in their argument.

    In that sense, it is a contradiction that the quarterback position, being the most important for any team, commands so much of the attention. 

    Most of the focus will be on the signal-callers in Super Bowl LVII, and rightly so. Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are making history in becoming the first black quarterbacks to face off in a Super Bowl in the Kansas City Chiefs' mouth-watering clash with the Philadelphia Eagles and are both candidates to win the MVP award on Thursday at the NFL Honors ceremony in Phoenix.

    While that pair of superstars will obviously have a mammoth part to play in deciding the winner of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, so often it is the game within the game in other areas that settles the NFL's showpiece.

    And there are several such granular contests that figure to have a substantial bearing on the outcome in Arizona. Here, Stats Perform digs into the numbers in examining three matchups that could decide Super Bowl LVII.

    Chris Jones vs. Isaac Seumalo and Jordan Mailata

    When the Chiefs have needed him most in the postseason, Chris Jones has typically delivered. Jones is in the curious position of being established as one the premier defensive linemen in the NFL but still arguably being underrated.

    While so much emphasis is placed on the offensive side of the Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV comeback four years ago, Jones was the man who ensured the San Francisco 49ers could not respond with the disruption he provided up front.

    In the AFC Championship Game this season, it was Jones – deployed off the edge rather than his familiar interior spot – who easily beat Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Hakeem Adeniji and brought Joe Burrow down for the key fourth-quarter sack that ended a prospective game-winning drive for the Bengals and gave the ball back to Mahomes to lead the Chiefs to a decisive field goal.

    Ranked third among all defensive linemen in his aggregate pass rush and run block win rate, Jones is a versatile force who has the talent to disrupt the best-laid plans of the Eagles.

    The Eagles rank first in pass block win rate and second in run block win rate, encapsulating the well-rounded nature of their ultra impressive offensive line. However, there are weaknesses, with right guard Isaac Seumalo (61.5 per cent) well below the 70.5 per cent pass block win rate average for his position and left tackle Jordan Mailata (74.3 per cent) only just above the NFL baseline of 72.9 per cent for his spot.

    As such, Jones will almost certainly see snaps on the interior where he lines up against Seumalo and others where he is one on one with Mailata. Their ability to hold their own against the best defensive player on the field will go a long way to determining whether the Eagles can justify their status as slight favourites.

    Travis Kelce vs. Avonte Maddox

    The trade of Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins ultimately did no damage to the Chiefs' status as one of the NFL's pre-eminent modern offenses, with Kansas City leading the league in Efficiency Versus Expected (EVE) on offense in 2022.

    With Hill out of the picture, Kelce has unsurprisingly served as the focal point of the attack. Arguably no two players in the NFL enjoy the same level of symbiosis as Mahomes and Kelce consistently display, the future Hall of Fame tight end continuing to confound defenses with his route-running and ability to create yardage after the catch.

    His domain while generating those headaches for defenders has primarily been the slot. 

    Of Kelce's routes in the 2022 season, 300 have come from the slot, compared to 173 from the outside receiver position and 139 from a traditional tight end alignment. 

    Kelce's burn rate, which measures how often a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, is 75.0 per cent from the slot, the seventh-best among slots with at least 25 targets. In other words, he has created separation from his defender on three quarters of his slot targets in 2022.

    Shutting down Kelce is a challenge few have had much success rising to, but the Eagles have a player who is statistically the best remedy to the threat he poses in slot cornerback Avonte Maddox.

    Maddox's combined open percentage allowed across man and zone coverage of 18.1 per cent is the best of any cornerback in the NFL. By that measure, Maddox is the elite at the slot corner position, and he will need to prove it for the Eagles to have any hope of containing Kelce and, in turn, the Chiefs.

    Jalen Hurts vs. Chiefs' front seven

    Two weeks removed from winning the AFC Championship Game on a sprained ankle, there is the question of how much of a running threat Patrick Mahomes can be in a game where even a sporadic impact from him on the ground would make a significant difference to keeping the Eagles' defense off the front foot.

    While he has recently dealt with a sprained shoulder, there will be no such doubts surrounding Hurts. The Eagles will run the ball, and Hurts will be integral to their game plan in doing so.

    Hurts and the Eagles have, for the entirety of the season when the starting quarterback has been healthy, done an outstanding job of keeping defenses guessing with a diverse run game built around the zone-read and the read-option.

    That presents a rather large problem for the Chiefs, whose primary weakness on defense is – you guessed it – against the run.

    The Chiefs rank 17th in run defense EVE, with their performance in that metric dropping to 24th against the rush in neutral situations – when the offense could realistically either run or throw the ball. 

    Philadelphia's offense thrives by creating doubt in the defense over what is coming in neutral situations, excelling at doing so to the point in the NFC Championship Game where San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner – who represents the gold standard at his position – was left stationary for key plays as indecision superseded his usually outstanding instincts.

    Kansas City's linebackers are not on the same level as Warner, with starters Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. both below the average in run defense win rate (17.7 per cent) for the position. 

    Their fallibility in that regard is something the Eagles will endeavour to attack time and again in pursuit of their second Super Bowl. It will take an intelligent and likely more measured approach from a defensive front known for its aggressiveness and an exceptional display of awareness from the Kansas City linebackers for the Chiefs' defense to avoid a long and very painful evening on the biggest stage.

  • Wiegman 'won't push' Mead as injured England superstar targets World Cup return Wiegman 'won't push' Mead as injured England superstar targets World Cup return

    Sarina Wiegman is not making any early call on Beth Mead's involvement in this year's Women's World Cup.

    Mead won the Player of the Tournament award and the Golden Boot as England celebrated an historic triumph at their home Women's Euro 2022.

    The Arsenal striker also finished in second place in last year's Ballon d'Or Feminin voting and would have a key role to play for Wiegman's Lionesses in Australia and New Zealand in July.

    But Mead's status ahead of the finals is uncertain as she continues her recovery from an ACL tear in November.

    As Wiegman named her latest England squad on Tuesday, she was asked if consideration had been given to plans that did not include Mead.

    But featuring at the World Cup remains a target for the 27-year-old.

    "It's a little early to say. I don't want to push it. She's had so many things going on," Wiegman said of Mead, whose mother died last year from ovarian cancer.

     

    "We'll see how her rehabilitation goes, then we'll look at the future. I don't want her to look too far forward right now because of her situation.

    "She had of course other private issues. I left the knee situation until now as I just wanted her to be okay and get settled with the situation and sadness she had around her.

    "She told me she's doing well. She really wants to make [the World Cup]. First, she needs to settle and we will see from there. For now, I won't push that."

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