England fans have been left in agony after losing the Euro 2020 final in heartbreaking fashion – on dreaded penalties.
After two hours of football ended in deadlock, the game at Wembley Stadium was settled by a dreaded shootout.
It had looked so promising when, after just two minutes, Luke Shaw gave England an early lead – sending millions in pubs, living rooms and fan zones into raptures.
Among them was seven-year-old royal Prince George, who looked jubilant as the Three Lions went ahead.
But it was more subdued in the second half as the Italians drew level, with pictures showing tense fans up and down the country as it seemed the dream was slipping away.
Extra-time then passed without another goal, before the air was sucked out of Wembley as Bukayo Saka’s penalty was saved – giving Italy the win.
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Fans in Trafalgar Square embraced each other following the team’s loss.
Supporters at the landmark collapsed to the floor, some could be seen crying, while others hit things in anger.
Some fans applauded and cheered the side’s accomplishments despite the defeat.
Others began singing the national anthem.
In Newcastle’s PaddyPark fans’ zone, supporters clapped the England players.
But some looked bereft and one shouted: “I cannot do this any more.”
Millie Carson, 18, said: “We have come so far, winning would have topped it all off.
“The team has brought the country together, everyone has been loving life in these hard times.”
Jake Shepherd, a 19-year-old project coordinator, said: “I’m gutted.
“But this sets us for the World Cup – who says we cannot win it?”
Student Jack Brown, 18, said: “I’m sad we lost but they have done so well.
“I’m proud of this team.”
And Mary Thomas, 64, from Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan, said: “To lose it at the last kick of the game, last kick of the tournament, is a sickener.
“That was a horrible way to end it.”
Great-great grandmother Mary Hurst, 84, said: “That’s so disappointing. I feel for the players who missed the penalties.
“Football is only a game, but it’s also cruel.”
Many fans slumped to the floor while others lay on tables in despair at Birmingham’s Luna Springs big screen venue.
As elation turned to deflation in little more than a minute, many supporters headed straight for the exit to head home.
Teenager Jack Smith said: “I feel sorry for the lads who had to take a penalty after coming on cold.
“I thought some of the bigger names would’ve stepped forward. It’s just a heartbreaking way to lose.”
Fans had hugged and leapt around in joy in pubs and fan zones across the country when the ball hit the back of the net in the second minute.
Jessica Garrett, 18, from east London, called the celebrations “brilliant”.
In Oxford Circus, central London, there were cheers and screams as England took the early lead.
James Caldon, 34, from Plumstead, south London, said: “Wow, what a start, we needed that.
“Luke Shaw deserves a knighthood.”
Inside the stadium the majority of the 60,000 fans were overjoyed as the ball hit the back of the net – but it was more subdued as Leonardo Bonucci levelled the game on 67 minutes.
Before the game there was chaos outside the national stadium as excitable fans congregated hours before kickoff.
There were hectic scenes in central London as supporters set off flares in King’s Cross – where the station was evacuated – and Leicester Square.
Dressed in team colours, they sang Three Lions and Sweet Caroline as an estimated 35m – a new record – prepared to watch the game on TV, the biggest audience since the 1966 World Cup final.
Families paraded also through the streets of Newton Heath, Manchester to show their support for the Three Lions before the historic clash.
The British Beer & Pub Association had predicted fans would buy 7.1m pints as they watched England’s first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup.
By the end of the competition it is estimated that £815m will have been spent in pubs and hospitality venues, with 32.6 million pints
sold, according to a report by Vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.
Footy fans had also renamed roads and venues in honour of the England squad.
Georgia Hines, from Stockport’s Chestergate Pub, said visitor numbers had “spiked” when they renamed it after manager Gareth Southgate.
“People are coming from other parts of Manchester to have a look,” she said. Residents of the town, where England star Phil Foden was born, have also renamed roads after his England team mate Mason Mount.
Fans on Wales Street in Oldham rebranded their road with the name England Street.