Former England star Frank Lampard was disappointed by England’s penalty shootout loss to Italy but feels there are many positive to take from the tournament.
The gamed ended 1-1 after 90 minutes as Luke Shaw’s second-minute strike was cancelled out by Leonardo Bonucci in the second period. The sides could not be separated after 30 minutes of extra time and the dreaded lottery from 12 yards awaited. England led 2-1 at one stage but misses by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka saw the Azzurri come through 3-2.
Many of the home players were in tears after the loss, with Gareth Southgate trying to console his dejected men. The atmosphere in the stadium was not what anyone had hoped as it ended in another heroic failure.
But Lampard remained upbeat. The ex-Chelsea chief felt Italy were worthy winners but saw plenty from England that suggests they are on the right track.
“We’ve seen individuals and the team grow,” he told BBC Sport. “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.”
Lampard knows feeling all too well
England do not have a good record when matches are decided by penalties. The hope was that they could do the job in regulation play to avoid the nerve-jangling spectacle.
But a disappointing second-half display when they rarely troubled the Italian goal meant spot kicks always looked likely. Questions will be asked of Southgate’s tactics in extra-time.
He brought on Rashford and Sancho with seconds remaining in order for them to take penalties. But they had little time to get into a rhythm and neither man could find the net.
It was a gamble that backfired as England were crying out for fresh legs during the extra half an hour. Nevertheless, Lampard refused to point the finger and preferred to focus on the way they endeared themselves to the public.
“The effort this England team put in, we felt it so dear to our hearts and we wanted them to get over the line,” he added. “Finals are won by moments. It can go any way. Penalties are so tough. It’s the nature of the game.”
And England legend Alan Shearer believes that it was always going to be tough for those coming on late in the encounter.
“It’s a big ask to put two players on with a few minutes to go and ask them to take penalties,” he told the BBC. “It’s big pressure when they’ve not kicked a ball. It’s a big ask.”