Ten-man England survived a second-half comeback in their first Euro 2024 qualifier to beat Italy 2-1 on Thursday in Naples, Italy.
It was England’s first competitive victory against Italy on Italian soil, the first to include friendlies since 1961, with a goal in the first half of Declan Ricefollowed by harry kanewhose 44th-minute penalty made him England’s all-time top scorer with 54 goals.
Rice shot England into the lead after 13 minutes by converting home the rebound after Kane’s shot from Bukayo SakaThe corner of was partially blocked. England were a much better team in the first half and deserved to extend their lead when giovanni di lorenzo he was deemed to have driven in the box, a ruling Serbian referee Srdjan Jovanovic awarded in the VAR review, allowing Kane to set the new England scoring record.
Italy rallied in the second half when matthew retegui marked his debut by scoring coolly lorenzo pellegrini56 minute pass.
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– Read on ESPN+: Lessons from Napoli’s success
As the home team drove England back, luke shaw he was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession, the first for wasting time and the second for a late tackle on Retegui, but England held together to get through the game.
The match marked Italy’s first defeat in Euro qualifiers in 41 matches since September 2006.
1. England carves another piece of history
England’s journey under Gareth Southgate has featured several milestones that represent tangible historic progress: a first World Cup penalty shootout victory in 2018, a first European Championship final at Euro 2020 and a sixth knockout win at a tournament in Qatar, which equaled the number achieved in the previous 48 years.
A Euro qualifier win doesn’t hold the same status in this pantheon of achievements, but England hadn’t beaten Italy since 1961. Italy had also been unbeaten in home qualifiers since September 1999 (against Denmark).
One of the few questions England have to answer under Southgate is their inconsistent record against top teams. Victory here is a benchmark that Southgate can use to help further boost England’s confidence and, in the short term, allow them to take early control of Group C in Euro qualifiers.
A home win against Ukraine on Sunday would round out the perfect way to respond to December’s World Cup knockout by France, akin to the thumping 4-0 victory in Hungary secured after losing the Euro 2020 final. it was also Southgate’s 50th win as England manager, from 82 games, a number second only to Walter Winterbottom (78) and Sir Alf Ramsey (69).
2. Poetic justice for Harry Kane
Nothing will completely take away the pain of missing a penalty in the World Cup quarter-final England defeated France three months ago. But there was a kind of poetic justice to Harry Kane breaking England’s men’s goalscoring record from the venue in Naples.
It was Kane’s 18th successful conversion (of 22 attempts) on the international stage, and it’s his reliability from the spot that made his miss against France in Qatar all the more amazing.
– More: How Harry Kane broke England’s goalscoring record
It has long been a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ Kane would top Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53 goals, but doing so at the first opportunity after his World Cup disappointment is a testament to strength of character. that Southgate praised Kane for pre-match.
Tributes poured in on social media, led by Rooney himself, in recognition of a player whose contribution to his country’s cause is now unrivaled. Kane’s clever stealing play, particularly in the first half, was a reminder that his ability extends far beyond just scoring goals.
The challenge for Kane now, and for England as a team, is to win a trophy to go along with these individual achievements.
3. Second half difficulties remain a concern for England
England’s tournament outings under Southgate have largely followed a similar pattern: starting well, taking the lead but then losing control in midfield after half-time, falling deep and finally succumbing.
The Euro 2020 final between, also against Italy, followed that precise path, as did England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final knockout of Croatia. And while the composition of last winter’s loss to France in Qatar was different, they still lost the game in the second half.
So, after a superb 45 minutes of opening on Thursday, ending with a shocking miss from Jack Grealish that would surely have ended this as a contest, England fell back again. Italy began to take control of the midfield battle and mistakes crept into England’s play, most obviously a palpably avoidable red card for Luke Shaw.
The fact that England held on despite these late swings should give them great encouragement. However, while it’s clear that teams can’t always dominate opponents for 90 minutes, it’s those periods of fragility that have cost England in the past. Southgate needs to be aware of the work that still needs to be done to eradicate these mishaps when it matters most.
Best and worst performers
Best: Jude Bellingham, England
Italy could not cope with their prowling play in the first half and although his influence waned after the restart, the 19-year-old again left the impression that he belongs on this level.
Best: Mateo Retegui, Italy
He had to wait for his chance, but displayed impressive composure on his debut to halve the deficit.
Best: Harry Kane, England
Some of his link plays were sublime and ended his wait to break the record.
Worst: Harry Maguire, England
He tried to recover the ball up the field but lost the challenge and left a great gap for Retegui to score.
Worst: Jack Grealish, England
He squandered a glorious opportunity on the brink of halftime and turned the ball over too often before his 69th-minute substitution.
Worst: Luke Shaw, England
He put pressure on his teammates with his red card.
Highlights and Highlights
It didn’t take long for England to give up the opening goal with Declan Rice serendipitously rebounding off the goal after just 13 minutes.
THERE IT IS 🎉
Declan Rice gives @England the early 1-0 lead over Italy! 🏴 pic.twitter.com/nnpz5Cuxnl
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 23, 2023
Just minutes into half time, Italian defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo was caught with his hand touching the ball in the box, possibly interfering with Harry Kane to win it. After a VAR review, the referee awarded the penalty.
Kane scored the penalty and officially became England’s top scorer, male or female, surpassing Wayne Rooney’s 53 international goals.
HE HAS DONE IT! 👏
Harry Kane has now scored more goals for England than any other player in the history of the men’s national team, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record (54). pic.twitter.com/SpTBZcspti
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 23, 2023
After the game: What the coaches and players had to say
England manager Gareth Southgate on Kane’s track record: “Breaking the record with so much of his career to go is an incredible achievement. He was given a glowing reception by the players afterwards, that was in response to breaking the record and what he had to recover from. I don’t remember what he said, but I’m sure it was on video, since everything is videotaped these days and nothing stays at home. Everyone recognized that it was a special and historic moment and that it deserves all the praise it receives.”
England striker Harry Kane on the meaning of the result: “It’s the first time England have won in Italy for a long, long time. To be a part of that is amazing. I just want to say thank you to all my teammates, the staff, the fans, my family back home.” and my wife. It was a really special night for me and one I will never forget. I am very proud. Thank you to everyone who is here and to everyone who has made this dream come true.”
Kane on his future: “I don’t like looking too far ahead because a lot can happen in football. But I’m 29, I feel fit and I feel strong. I feel probably the best I’ve ever felt in my life.” race so far. So I hope to have many more years. Playing for England is probably my greatest feeling in football and I want to do it for as long as possible. As a striker, I want to score in every game. But now is the time. to get ready for Sunday because we have to make sure we win that now and make sure it’s a really good camp. Hopefully many more (goals)”.
Key statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
Harry Kane reached 54 career international goals, surpassing Wayne Rooney for the most in England national team history (men’s or women’s).
Kane scored a penalty against Italy, and now 18 of Kane’s 54 career England goals have come from penalties, including five of his last six.
Italy’s streak of 40 games without losing in the Euro qualifiers (34-6-0) ends. Italy had not lost in Euro qualifiers since September 6, 2006 against France.
Until next time
Italy: gli azurri return to action for Euro qualifier against Malta on Sunday 26 March.
England: The Three Lions continue their Euro Cup qualifying campaign in this window against Ukraine on Sunday 26 March.