Football: Southgate accepts responsibility for penalty 'gamble' in Euro 2020 final

England's coach Gareth Southgate looks on during the Euro 2020 final football match at the Wembley Stadium in London, on July 11, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - England manager Gareth Southgate said it was his decision to put teenager Bukayo Saka as his team's final penalty taker in their shoot-out loss to Italy in Sunday's (July 11) Euro 2020 final.

The home side, playing in their first major final since 1966, lost 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

Southgate also brought on Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford deep into extra time specifically to take spot-kicks, and they also both missed as England blew an early advantage in the shoot-out.

"I chose the takers," Southgate told ITV. "I'm unbelievably disappointed not to go one step further.

"We decided to make the changes at the end of the game, but we win or lose together as a team."

Arsenal winger Saka, who had only made five international appearances before the tournament, saw England's final penalty saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, after Jorginho had wasted the chance to secure the title for Italy when his effort was kept out by Jordan Pickford.

"That was my decision to give him (Saka) that penalty," said Southgate, who missed the crucial penalty when England lost in the Euro '96 semi-final to Germany on home soil.

"We worked with them in training. It was a gamble."

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