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Match Report | England hold on for 2-1 win against Italy despite frantic final minutes

Goals from Declan Rice and Harry Kane’s record breaking strike was enough for Gareth Southgate’s men to bag all three points in southern Italy against Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri

England set the record straight on a night at Napoli’s Diego Maradona Stadium against fellow Group C juggernaut Italy to begin their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign in the win column.

In a rematch of the Euro 2020 final that ended in England’s heartbreak from the penalty spot, Gareth Southgate’s men were expecting to come out swinging to take control of the group from the earliest possible point while fielding an XI that remains without criticism.

After Italy came busting out of the gates, England’s knack for being ruthless on the counter began to bubble to the surface through Jude Bellingham’s penchant for driving play through midfield, with the Dortmund starlet testing Donnarumma in the 13th minute with a thunderbolt from distance that the PSG shot-stopper tipped over the bar.

The Three Lions would score from the resulting corner, however, after a loose ball fell to Harry Kane whose effort deflected straight to Declan Rice for the West Ham United midfielder to hit home for the opener.

Gareth Southgate’s men were clearly on the front foot since taking the lead and looked destined for a second, so it came as no surprise that it would come through headline striker Harry Kane who slammed home his penalty in the 44th minute after SSC Napoli captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo as judged to have handballed in the box in front of home support.

That strike saw Kane finally climb atop the England goalscoring pile to become the nation’s all-time leading scorer and a chance to give himself a record that potentially may become insurmountable in the future.

Italy’s historic success at home in European qualifying and against England roared back to the surface eleven minutes after the half-time interval after 23-year-old Mateo Retegui scored on his national team debut after declaring for the Azzurri on account of Italian grandparents. The Argentine-born striker was found in space vacated by Harry Maguire by Lorenzo Pellegrini to cut the Three Lions’ lead in half.

Roberto Mancini’s men had found new motivation now, beginning to press England with three and four players in a bid to find parity on the night once again, and the Italians were aided by the fact that Luke Shaw was sent off for a second bookable offense just two minutes before receiving his first yellow card, seeing England down to ten men for the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time.

England would hold on until the end, however, avenging their Euro 2020 finals loss while jumping to the top of the table in Group C with a vital three points to kick off their qualifying campaign.

Italy Player Ratings

  • GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6.5
  • RB: Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 6
  • CB: Rafael Toloi – 7
  • CB: Francesco Acerbi – 7
  • LB: Leonardo Spinazzola – 6
  • DM: Jorginho – 5.5
  • CM: Nicolò Barella – 6
  • CM: Marco Verratti – 7
  • RW: Domenico Berardi – 6
  • LW: Lorenzo Pellegrini – 7
  • CF: Mateo Retegui – 7
  • Sub: Mateo Politano – 6.5
  • Sub: Bryan Cristante – 6
  • Sub: Wilfried Gnonto – 6
  • Sub: Sandro Tonali – 6
  • Sub: Gianluca Scamacca – N/A

England Player Ratings

  • GK: Jordan Pickford – 6
  • RB: Kyle Walker – 6.5
  • CB: John Stones – 6.5
  • CB: Harry Maguire – 6
  • LB: Luke Shaw – 5.5
  • DM: Kalvin Phillips – 6.5
  • CM: Jude Bellingham – 7
  • CM: Declan Rice – 7.5
  • RW: Bukayo Saka – 7
  • LW: Jack Grealish – 6.5
  • CF: Harry Kane – 7.5
  • Sub: Phil Foden – 6
  • Sub: Kieran Trippier – 6
  • Sub: Reece James – 6
  • Sub: Conor Gallagher – 6

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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