Balotelli scoring, Sterling's 'goal' and the last time Italy and England met in a major competition


Balotelli scoring, Sterling's 'goal' and the last time Italy and England met in a major competition
Image Credits: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Italy take on England in what is set to be an intriguing UEFA Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium, with both nations looking to reestablish themselves as Europe's top football countries.


But what happened the last time Italy met England in a major competition?


The two sides last met in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, both having ageing squads, with several players participating in their final international major tournament, including the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard.


Both sides went into the tournament with plenty of promise, especially since they were in a group that also involved Costa Rica and Uruguay, two nations that were deemed to be weaker than Italy and England.


This game opened Italy and England's campaigns in the tournament, playing in the newly constructed Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, in typical hot summer weather.


Raheem Sterling thought that he had put England ahead in the opening stages of the game, with the then Liverpool star hitting an outrageous strike from outside of the box after just three minutes of play, that nestled right on the side netting, fooling practically everyone watching, as the ball seemed to go in, yet it had not.


Italy afterwards dominated, with Pirlo feinting a movement towards the ball from a short corner from Marco Verratti, leaving it to Claudio Marchisio who scored with a delightful finish into the bottom corner from outside of the box.


However, England responded just two minutes later, with Wayne Rooney crossing the ball for Daniel Sturridge, who scored from close range to take the scores level at the break.


The goal was marred by an injury to England physiotherapist Gary Lewin, who was stretchered off after dislocating one of his ankles during the celebrations for the goal, ruling him out for the rest of the competition.


Despite England's celebrations, Italy controlled the second-half, particularly due to an early goal from Mario Balotelli, who headed the winner from close range after a cross from Antonio Candreva.


England's performance was not terrible, yet Italy were clearly the better side, with Pirlo controlling all of the play during the match, even hitting the bar with a brilliant free-kick late in the game.


Italy would go on to finish as 2-1 winners of the game, but it proved to be futile for them, as they would then go on to lose against Costa Rica and Uruguay, both 1-0, leaving them third in the group, and hence, eliminated from the World Cup at the group stages for the second consecutive time after the shambolic 2010 campaign.


England fared even worse, losing 2-1 against Uruguay after a brace from Luis Suarez, and then letting a game drift past them with a goalless draw against Costa Rica, meaning they finished bottom of the group with just a single point.


It is remarkable to see the rise of these two nations over the years, both having plenty of changes, in terms of managers, as well as in terms of players, leading to them contesting in the biggest game in European football.


It will be interesting to see how the game develops, but what is certain is that we will see a game between two of Europe's most fluent sides in the Euros!