A 3-2 loss on penalties. It’s sad and disappointing - desperately. Yet that gives way to pride when England’s performance across the whole tournament is remembered.
Bravo Southgate and team! Thank you for an uplifting and inspiring summer.
Let’s conclude the Agents’ Reports we’ve had for each of England’s games. Once again we’re indebted to Kerfuffle IT Director Paul Morgan, who has given us spirited and detailed commentary throughout.
This is what he told us ahead of the final.
“Readers of my first match report will remember how I explained many writers create a match report in the second half, meaning they miss some action and provide the most detail on only the first half of the game.
“I do not want to be in that position. So I am writing my introduction in advance. Five hours in advance, such is my excitement. However, Mrs Morgan is not happy as it is our wedding anniversary….
So my pre-match thoughts…
“The Italian players are excellent at set-piece plays. They tend to line up in two lines of four and then create clever runs and diversions from this formation.
“Italy build-up attacks on their wide-left in the middle-third of the pitch. As they approach the final third, Italy tries to move the ball wide right.
“Under normal circumstances, we want to get the ball wide to Sterling on our right. However, I do not think Shaw will be as far upfield as often because he will be wary of Italy being in his area in the final third.
“Italy likes to choose one opposing midfielder and try to mark the player out of the game, forming a pentagon formation to prevent passes to this player. I think the player they will target is Mount.”
And now the match itself…
"Having experienced many emotions, I conclude that while we should be proud of Southgate and the team, our lack of international final experience showed in the end.
"The first half was totally dominated by England. We played an incredibly high press and at halftime justified the one-goal lead.
"I felt that we gained the advantage by rapidly switching the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, bypassing the Italian midfield, and through a dominant display by Phillips. Shaw's goal in particular will be a tournament highlight for me.
"In the second half, Jorginho came into the game more, enabled by Phillips being marked out of the game either through marking or pass-interception. This allowed Italy to apply sustained pressure, forcing England into mistakes, ultimately enabling an equalizer. In one of Southgate's interviews, he mentioned he regretted not having a Plan B in the World Cup Semi-Final that England lost in 2018.
"In years to come he will feel the same about the second half of this game.
"The Italians held onto their advantage in the first 10 minutes of extra time, without creating chances of merit. However, England came back into the game and in the final 20 minutes, we had the opportunity to win the tournament.
"Alas, it was not to be.
"I do question how we failed to score three of our five penalties, but we have to look at the bigger picture and be satisfied that England made it to a final, and conceded only two goals all tournament.
"Moreover, we can take this disappointment and use it as inspiration in next year's world cup.
"Onwards and upwards."
"PS - No gratuitous plug this week. I will be a little more subtle and simply state I can help you with PropTech choices…."