It didn't come home after all. England may have scored just two minutes into the Euro 2020 final against Italy, but the Azzurri would equalise in the second half before sealing their continental crown on penalties.
Throughout the contest, fans around the world reacted to all the drama in real time. To tell the story of how this game unfolded, ESPN mined social media for the best reaction to all the evening's action.
The drama at Wembley began well before a ball was kicked in anger, well before the ball bags were emptied for warmups. While an official statement from the famed statement read that "there were no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium," the reality on the ground looked much different.
Several people inside the ground captured video of fans overrunning stewards. Several more noted supporters standing in aisles and minor disputes over seats.
It appears the breach was more serious than anyone thought. Numbers that broke through at least in the hundreds. pic.twitter.com/qM1ngYzyI8— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) July 11, 2021
Just seen another fan jump down a 20 foot+ wall to try to get into the inner cordon near the media entrance. He's telling the stewards escorting him away he had his ticket stolen. You don't get this for a November World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) July 11, 2021
Steady flow of ticketless fans were still rushing into stands when the opener was scored. Aisles so full, stairs blocked and the disabled area in front of the press box is packed. Paying supporters pleading with helpless stewards to get them out. Kids scared, seats stolen. Unsafe— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) July 11, 2021
This is a mess - there are clearly ticketless fans coming into the stadium in front of me. Some trying to stand in the disabled section.— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) July 11, 2021
Supposedly the crowd is limited to 60,000, but in the sections next to me, there are more people than seats. Not sure how people got in. Large crowd of able-bodied people standing in the disabled section right in front of me. Not safe #ENGITA— Simon Kuper (@KuperSimon) July 11, 2021
But inside two minutes, everyone in attendance couldn't help but watch what was unfolding on the pitch. England scored the fastest goal in the history of the Euros, when Luke Shaw volleyed home off the inside of the near post on just one minute and 57 seconds.
And, as you can imagine, Wembley went wild.
WHAT A START FOR ENGLAND!!!— ESPN (@espn) July 11, 2021
LUKE SHAW SCORES IN THE 2ND MINUTE 🏴 pic.twitter.com/yJVrDqLs6E
Luke Shaw picked a hell of a match to score his first international goal— Zito (@_Zeets) July 11, 2021
Of course, this being a major tournament final, there were stars in attendance. Former England midfielder and all-around icon David Beckham taking in the moment? Yeah, that makes sense. That he celebrated Shaw's goal with Tom Cruise? That was less predictable.
Tom Cruise and David Beckham taking in the Euro final 😎 pic.twitter.com/l9H91a7nsU— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 11, 2021
Tom Cruise and David Beckham fist bumping each other after Luke Shaw takes the lead for England against a Italy in a European Championship final is a sentence I'd never thought I'd write but here we are.— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) July 11, 2021
For the ensuing 65 minutes, the Three Lions went from firmly in control of the final, with nearly all of Wembley behind them, to Italy slowly but surely gaining a foothold in the contest. Jordan Pickford made a fine save from Federico Chiesa, sounding the alarm for England, but it wasn't heeded.
In the 67th minute, Leonardo Bonucci reacted to a scramble in the six-yard box, poking home the equaliser for the Azzurri.
BONUCCI 🇮🇹— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 11, 2021
Italy are back in this final!! pic.twitter.com/7lBvKnDUr3
#EURO2020— Nazionale Italiana ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Vivo_Azzurro) July 11, 2021
⚽️ GOOOL! #BONUCCI!!!
🇮🇹🏴 #ItaliaInghilterra 1⃣-1⃣
Bonucci risolve una mischia in area! 1-1!#ITA #ITAING#Nazionale #Azzurri #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/tU3ZMrAA1I
We've got a ballgame...#Euro2020Final— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 11, 2021
Nineteen minutes later, Italy's ascendancy was stunted when Chiesa was forced off after receiving treatment on his ankle. The Juventus attacker had been the most lively player on the pitch, for either side, and seemed the most likely to write the names of Roberto Mancini's men in the history books.
That's the end of Chiesa's night 🙁— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 11, 2021
Blow for Italy. pic.twitter.com/D7NuzBh8Sm
And if it couldn't get any worse for the Wembley security staff, they then had to deal with a pitch invader. Who successfully evaded them, for more than a minute.
This has been a farcical day for Wembley security. It's felt completely lawless at times and now a pitch invader. Embarrassing— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) July 11, 2021
Ninety minutes wasn't enough to separate England and Italy. The Three Lions couldn't find a second goal in the 88 minutes following their opener, as the Azzurri grew into the game and looked the more dangerous side in the closing stages of normal time.
⏰ FULL TIME ⏰— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021
😱 Extra time coming up!
🇮🇹 Bonucci bundles home Azzurri equaliser
🏴 Shaw half-volley gives England early lead
🤔 Who'll win it?#EURO2020
Hope Southgate goes for it a bit more now. Fear Italy gonna eat us alive on pens. Just imagining the effect of Chiellini looking over... pic.twitter.com/tRXwNzuTXd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) July 11, 2021
With time ticking away, and the prospect of penalties looming on the horizon, substitute Jack Grealish suffered a nasty challenge from the studs of Jorginho. ESPN analyst and Euro 2016 match official Mark Clattenburg said during the broadcast that the Chelsea midfielder's contact with the ball first, causing his boot's deflection, left the punishment to be a caution -- which is precisely what the Italian received.
Would that decision prove prophetic? Jorginho being one of the world's premier penalty takers, after all.
Yellow card for Jorginho? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/S1yPdOzipA— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 11, 2021
To the spot kicks we would go. For the first time since 1976, the European Championship final would be decided by penalties.
⏰ END OF EXTRA TIME ⏰— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021
The EURO 2020 final goes to penalties 😱
🇮🇹🆚🏴 Who deserves the 🏆❓#EURO2020
It would be a rollercoaster of a shootout, with Andrea Belotti, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Jorginho and Bukayo Saka all missing or having their efforts saved. Gianluigi Donnarumma got both hands on Saka's final effort, sealing the European championship for Italy.
ITALY ARE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1968! 🏆— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 11, 2021
Heartbreak for England 💔 pic.twitter.com/ADo4tAProZ
Bonucci shouting "It's coming to Rome!" straight down the camera about 30 seconds after the end of the shootout is some vibe.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) July 11, 2021
Brutal fate for Bukayo Saka. Full credit to him for stepping up in the pressure moment, but why is the 19-year-old taking England's fifth penalty? No veteran could step up there?— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) July 11, 2021
Saka struck it well, credit to Donnarumma for the save.
Jorginho is the 10th player in history to appear in and win the EURO and the European Cup final in the same year. pic.twitter.com/OICsO6oOer— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 11, 2021
ITALIA!!!!— Joel "Troel" Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) July 11, 2021