Montreal soccer fans cheer and jeer as Italy takes Euro cup in shootout
Those walking or driving in Montreal today will likely be unable to avoid the cheers and jeers of soccer fans after this year's Euro cup final.
Italy reigned victorious after 90 minutes, two rounds of overtime, and a shootout to end a battle of two soccer superstar nations.
It was over two hours of red wine versus lager, espresso versus tea, fettucini versus fish and chips.
In Montreal, fans from both sides showed their colours in anticipation of the high-stakes game, and celebrations ran through the city's Italian neighbourhoods for the final score.July 11, 2021
The game got to a rough start for Italy supporters after Briton left-back Luke Shaw scored the team’s first goal just two minutes in.
Hollywood darling Tom Cruise showed his allegiance in the stands catching a fist-bump following England’s first goal.
After a challenged win against Spain, Italy held the possession over England through first half, with the boys in blue dominating in shots towards goal. Only one made the net, however, before getting scooped up by the queen's goalie, Jordan Pickford.
England maintained their lead as the game paused for half time with Italy solidifying a 6-4 possessive share.
Italian Mid Nicolo Barella picked up the team's first yellow card just minutes into the second half after a foul against Striker Harry Kane.
Minutes later, Italian Defender Leonardo Bonucci earned another after bringing down England Forward Raheen Sterling.
Italy responded with two substitutions: Barella subbed out for Bryan Cristante, and Forward Domenico Berardi stepped in for Ciro Immobile.
Italian Centre-Back Leonardo Bonucci tied the scoreboard 67 minutes in after tipping a wild ball into England's lower-left corner.
England struggled to keep possession in the even game, with Italy taking the majority of shots in the second half (15-3 shots, 5-2 on-goal).
The British team opted for their own substitutions: Bukayo Saka stepped in for Kieran Trippier, and Declan Rice made way for Jordan Henderson.
Shortly after, Frederico Bernardeschi subbed in on the blue side after Forward Frederico Chiesa injured his foot and limped off the field.
Forward Lorenzo Insigne picked up the team's third yellow card, and Defender Giorgio Chiellini earned a fourth with a sharp tug on Saka's shirt that brought him to the ground.
With six minutes added, the score remained tied at 1-1 as the clock ran out.
Both teams struggled to make plays in the first round of overtime as fans watched nervously in the stands and around the world.
They headed for a huddle before the second and final round of OT began.
Italian Forward Federico Benardeschi tee'd off with a free kick after Harry Maguire earned England their first yellow card.
After two full rounds of overtime stalemates, Italy took the shootout with a 3-2 lead to bring the cup Rome.
Italy soccer fans celebrate after defeating England in the Euro 2020 final, in Montreal, Sunday, July 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
HIGH HOPES FROM BOTH SIDES
At Evangelista Sports on Saint-Laurent Blvd. in Little Italy, Italian and England jerseys were flying off the shelves before Italy hit the grass.
"The first game of Italy, all the jerseys were bought," said manager Julio Fernandez. "As soon as they (England) hit the semi-finals, they sold out."
It is the first time England has reached a major international tournament final since 1966 when England beat Germany to win the World Cup.
Italy won the Euro two years later in 1968 and also took home the World Cup in 1982 and 2006. It's Italy's third trip to the Euro finals this century having fallen in the final game in 2000 and 2012.
England fan Danny Payne caught the England v. Denmark game at Bowhead Pub down the street from Little Italy on Saint-Laurent Blvd. and Pins Ave., but he stayed home for the final with his dad via a video link in West Yorkshire.
He was never confident that "It's coming home."
"It's coming Rome," he joked.
"It's Coming Home" was the theme song for the Three Lions in 1996 for the Euros that were that has since become a recurring, hopeful cliche among English fans and pundits.
The British-style pub Pub Bishop & Bagg is located near Montreal's Little Italy neighbourhood, so manager Megan Turcotte expected to see supporters of both teams.
"People are super excited, it brings everyone together," she said. "They drink a lot and they are loud. Some even sit in the streets and watch from afar on our televisions."
Roland Lamote of Montreal said he played soccer when he was younger, but now watching the games keeps him going.
He's lived in Little Italy his whole life, so rooting for Italy feels like supporting his home team, he said.
"With the Montreal Canadiens, I was so, so so disappointed," Lamote said lamenting the Habs' loss in the Stanley Cup finals last week. "But at least we have this football game now."
Burgundy Lion hostess Maggie Morris will be hoping "it's coming home" as England faces Italy in the Euro cup finals July 11, 2021. (Daniel J. Rowe/CTV News)
Bowhead Pub opened in 2019 and manager Peter Lennox said the Euro has given the pub a shot in the arm after a tough year of COVID-19 pandemic.
"At the beginning, we were trying to attract German, English and French," said Lennox. "I'm English born and raised, and I lived in France for 12 years, and my partner is from Germany and we had a big demand for German games."
While French and German fans remain with thoughts of what could have been, Bowhead's English fans were ready today.
-- with files from The Canadian Press.