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Jose Mourinho admits he is at a loss trying to explain Gareth Southgate's substitutions during the closing stages of England's defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

The Three Lions fell short in pursuit of their first major trophy since 1966 as Italy prevailed in a penalty shootout at Wembley on Sunday night.

Leonardo Bonucci equalised in the second half after Luke Shaw's early opener, and the momentum was with Italy as extra-time wore on.

Given the mounting pressure on England's defence, Mourinho says he "could not understand" Southgate's decision to replace defender Kyle Walker and midfielder Jordan Henderson with forwards Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

Sancho (pictured with Southgate) and Rashford were introduced in the closing stages but neither converted a penalty
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)

"I'd like to touch on a point which for me was even harder to see it from a coach point of view which was the changes of Walker and Henderson for Rashford and Sancho," Mourinho told talkSPORT on Monday morning.

"Before a corner to be taken where you lose two good defenders and you change by two cold players, not defenders and England could lose the game in there. So I think that one is really something I could not understand."

Rashford and Sancho would go on to miss their penalties in the shootout before 19-year-old Bukayo Saka also failed to convert.

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Southgate has subsequently explained England's penalty-taking order was decided on in training, but Mourinho has qualms about leaving the final spot kick to a 19-year-old.

He added: "Then the decision of the penalty takers I think it's hard to leave especially Saka as the last one.

"I think it's too much for a kid to have everything on his shoulders in this moment but I don't know if I have to ask Gareth or not because players who should be there, they are not there.

Should Bukayo Saka have been left to take the final penalty? Comment below.

"Players that should be there, they run away from the responsibility. And because I feel Gareth is such an honest guy, such a protective coach of his group of players, I don't believe Gareth would ever say that player A or player B they run away, they hide or they told me that they weren't ready to.

"Because don't ask me who, but I was told 100 per cent [sure] that one player that could be in this team and was not in this team, one of the reasons was because in the World Cup semi-final he should take a penalty and he refused.

"So sometimes these situations happen and honest people like Gareth they don't expose the player. It doesn't matter if you are a great player or not, in this situation, where was Sterling? Where was Stones? And where was Luke Shaw?

"And why Henderson or Walker they didn't stay on the pitch because in reality it is very, very hard for Rashford and Sancho to come and take a penalty after one touch on the ball and for Saka to have the destiny of a penalty on his shoulders I think is too much."