- 10-man England survived a late red card to defeat Italy 2-1 in their first Euro 2024 qualifying Group C match.
- Harry Kane cemented his status as the nation’s all-time leading scorer.
The Three Lions survived a late red card to defeat Italy, the reigning champions, 2-1 in their first Euro 2024 qualifying Group C match as Harry Kane cemented his status as the nation’s all-time leading scorer.
After Declan Rice had opened the scoring for Gareth Southgate’s team, the Tottenham Hotspur forward passed Wayne Rooney with his 54th goal to make it 2-0, but the Italian team threatened a late comeback after Mateo Retegui had pulled one back.
How the game unfolded
Eight minutes in, Bukayo Saka had the first opportunity to score, but the Arsenal sensation struggled to make a good touch with the ball while under pressure. Four minutes later, Jude Bellingham’s powerful shot was deflected over by Donnarumma.
But from the ensuing corner, Saka’s deep cross to the back stick landed for Kane, whose shot was stopped before Rice arrived in the perfect spot at the perfect moment to bury the rebound.
Bellingham and Rice completely outplayed a struggling Italy as England, with their heads up, controlled the midfield fight, maybe increasing their value by a few pounds in preparation for the predicted bidding wars for their services in the summer.
While Italy failed to gain control of the game, Kalvin Phillips attempted to get in on the action and shot just wide of the post in the 32nd minute. A subsequent Saka corner to the back post then served as the impetus for England’s insurance goal in the 44th minute.
The ball touched Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s outstretched arm before Kane could take advantage of Saka’s set piece, but referee Srdjan Jovanovic first waved down the Three Lions’ loud protests.
But after a quick glance at the pitchside monitor, a spot kick was given, allowing Kane to beat Donnarumma for his record-breaking 54th goal for England.
The Tottenham Hotspur player let his emotions take control as he basked in the glory, but England’s predominant feeling in the 45th minute was dismay as Jack Grealish missed a chance at the back post just before halftime.
The second half
Italy started the second half like a completely different team and scored Retegui’s landmark goal in the 56th minute to cut the lead in half.
Lorenzo Pellegrini found Retegui, who fired into the far corner for his first goal for the Azzurri after Nicolo Barella received the full power of a Maguire’s foot. As the game reached its final minutes, England hardly ever ventured outside of their own half. The referee didn’t hold back when it came to time-wasting, booking Kyle Walker and Shaw for delay tactics in rapid succession.
Shaw received his marching orders for a second yellow card offence after bringing Retegui down to see red only a few minutes after being cautioned for taking too long on a throw-in.
Southgate’s team battled through five minutes of extra time to secure a spirited victory.
England is set to play Ukraine on Sunday at Wembley stadium.