Rashford barely featured in England’s first major tournament final for 55 years, which got off to the best possible start after Luke Shaw fired home the fastest goal in European Championship final history after just two minutes.
However, Italy become the contest’s dominant force after the opening exchanges and their relentless pressure finally told just after the hour mark when Leonardo Bonucci responded quickest to a loose ball in the penalty area, bundling the ball home beyond Jordan Pickford.
The scores remained level at 1-1 for the remainder of the 90, before 30 minutes of extra-time passed with little offered by either side, both seemingly happy to play for penalties.
Just before the full-time whistle went to mark the end of extra-time, England boss Gareth Southgate made a double substitution that saw Rashford and Jadon Sancho enter the fray in place of Jordan Henderson and Kyle Walker.
The changes were made with the penalty shootout in mind, with Rashford in particular showcasing his ability from the spot a number of times at club level for Manchester United.
However, the switches backfired given both Rashford and Sancho failed to convert from the spot, before Bukayo Saka missed the decisive penalty, his effort saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma to seal Italy’s victory.
After the game, Frank Lampard, while on punditry duty as part of BBC’s coverage of the clash, explained how Rashford’s stuttering run-up is particularly difficult to execute in a high-stakes situation.
“I’ve never taken a penalty with that style. I always consider there’s a penalty [style] for me and many takers take them very well,” Lampard claimed.
“But on the training ground behind closed doors, that shuffle and wait [that Rashford used] is much easier. With the pressure of what this game brings, it’s harder.”
His sentiments were not echoed by fellow pundit Rio Ferdinand, who defended his old side’s talisman by claiming “You can miss in any style.”
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The decision to let Saka, a teenager, take the crucial penalty drew criticism from many sections at the more senior players in the side, including Raheem Sterling.
Lampard was quick to dismiss the idea Sterling should have taken one, explaining: “I’m not sure Raheem is absolutely a penalty taker at heart and I think you have to give credit as much to say, ‘I’m not feeling it’, for whatever reason.
“You can’t over-analyse this now, it’s a horrible moment.”