With his 54th goal in a tense 2-1 victory over Italy on Thursday, Harry Kane set the all-time record for goals scored by an English player. The victory marked a successful start to his team’s Euro 24 qualification campaign.
Declan Rice had already given Gareth Southgate’s team the lead when skipper Harry Kane converted a 44th-minute penalty to surpass Wayne Rooney and lead England to a crucial Group C victory in Naples over the European champions.
After the intermission, Mateo Retegui scored for Italy on his debut for his new nation. Despite late pressure and Luke Shaw’s dismissal with 10 minutes remaining, the Azzurri were unable to salvage a point in a rematch of the Euro 2020 final.
After missing a penalty in England’s World Cup quarterfinal loss to France in December, Tottenham attacker Kane and Rooney were tied with 53 goals for their respective countries.
Nevertheless, this time at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, he stepped up and converted without error after Giovanni Di Lorenzo was called for handball as a result of a VAR review.
In order to overcome a major tournament drought of nearly six decades, Southgate stated on Wednesday that England needed to start defeating the top opponents. The fact that England defeated Italy away from home for the first time since 1961 bodes well for the remainder of qualifying.
It was a frustrating evening for Italy as they missed the opportunity to give England another bloody nose by eliminating them from the top division of the Nations League due to a poor first-half performance.
In a five-team group that also includes Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Malta, Roberto Mancini’s team demonstrated why they should be one of the two sides to advance after a determined effort after the break in which they limited England to very little.
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Gianluca Vialli passed away the day before the game on Thursday, and there was a heartfelt pre-game homage to the former forward for Sampdoria, Juventus, and Chelsea who was an important member of Mancini’s coaching team.
In their playing days at Sampdoria in the 1980s and 1990s, Vialli was Mancini’s closest friend and longtime strike partner. He passed away in January at the age of 58 after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer.
The pitchside hoardings said “Ciao Luca,” and images of Vialli and Mancini celebrating the Euro victory were displayed on the Maradona’s large screen.
The first effort on goal in the game was made by England’s Bakayo Saka in the eighth minute, following a small early flurry by the hosts. However, once the game started, it was clear that England was the more dangerous team.
Following excellent work from Jack Grealish and Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham sting Gianluigi Donnarumma’s fingers with a powerful shot four minutes later, and the away team went ahead from the next corner.
As Harry Kane’s attempt was stopped, Rice calmly scored the game’s first goal after receiving the ball.
After taking the lead, England continued to advance, and Kalvin Phillips came the closest to doubling their advantage in the 32nd minute with a low shot before Di Lorenzo gave Kane the opportunity to create history.
Retegui brought the hosts back into the game with a nice low finish after being brilliantly supplied by Lorenzo Pellegrini. The game appeared to be settling into a routine England victory.
The 45,000 spectators cheered on Italy when Shaw received two yellow cards in quick succession, the second for cutting down Retegui to halt a potentially damaging Italy advance.
Unfortunately, Italy was unable to capitalize on its position, and England held on to secure a significant victory.