Italy 1-2 England: Three Lions kick off with huge victory

Italy 1-2 England: Harry Kane becomes Three Lions’ ALL-TIME leading scorer with winner from penalty spot as Gareth Southgate’s side cling on in Euro qualifier after Luke Shaw red card in Naples

  • Declan Rice opened the scoring from close range after after Harry Kane’s shot was blocked in the 13th minute 
  • England were awarded a penalty after Harry Kane’s back post header was deemed to have been handled 
  • The England captain then sent the keeper the wrong way to become his country’s all-time leading scorer 
  • Mateo Retegui pulled one back but Gareth Southgate’s men held on to secure a huge three points 
  • Luke Shaw was then shown a red card after receiving two yellow cards in the space of a minute

Harry Kane took the ball in his hands and walked up to the penalty spot in the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona last night. And suddenly, for a few seconds, our minds were taken back to a stadium in the desert north of Doha on Saturday December 10last year. Kane was standing over a penalty spot then, too, with six minutes to go of a World Cup quarter-final. England were down 2-1 to France.

It was 103 days ago but the moment is etched on all our memories. Kane, who had already scored one penalty in the game at Al Bayt Stadium, took his run-up and then smashed the ball high, high over the crossbar. And Kylian Mbappe laughed with relief. And every England fan in the ground was stunned into silence. The miss cost Kane the chance to break his country’s goalscoring record. And England went out of the World Cup.

Now, Kane was standing over a penalty spot again. There were two minutes to go until half time of England’s first match since that grim night in Qatar and Giovanni Di Lorenzo had just handled the ball in the Italy area. And in another big game, England’s critical opening match of their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign against one of the traditional powerhouses of the sport, Kane had a shot at a kind of redemption.

This time, just like almost every other time he takes a penalty, he made no mistake. He sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way and clipped his kick inside the left-hand post. This time, he had it. This time he had number 54, the goal that established him as England’s greatest goalscorer, the goal that took him above Wayne Rooney in that fabled list that includes Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Jimmy Greaves.

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring from the spot to take him above Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time leading goalscorer

Kane sent the goalkeeper the wrong way after winning the spot-kick for his side shortly before half-time in Naples 

Kane looked delighted after doubling his side’s lead in the European Championship qualifier with a historic strike 

The England captain kissed the England badge as some of the painful memories from the World Cup fell into the distance

The penalty put England 2-0 up after Declan Rice’s earlier strike and even though Mateo Retegui pulled one back for Italy early in the second half, Luke Shaw was sent off for two bookable offences in quick succession ten minutes from time and the home side were much the better team after the break, England had the guts and the doggedness to hang on and come away with the win.

Kane’s goal was the difference in a game that England nearly threw away. England were poor in the second half but it was still a hugely important win both for the team and for manager Gareth Southgate. A loss last night and Southgate’s detractors would have been raining criticism down on him ahead of Sunday’s next qualifier against Ukraine but this victory in the most difficult fixture of the group will buy him time and renewed support.

At the Euro 2020 final, Italy pegged England back and broke their hearts in the penalty shoot-out but this time, England dug in and clung on. If this qualifying competition and the finals which follow it are to form Southgate’s last dance as England boss after the six years he has already spent in the job, this victory and some of the qualities England showed during it made it the perfect start on the road to the tournament in Germany.

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice opened the scoring after just 13 minutes when he turned home from close range 

Kane (left) saw his close range shot blocked but the ball fell kindly for team-mate Rice (right), who made no mistake

Rice (R) watches on as his strike flies into the net to give England the perfect start at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium

Rice is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring England’s first goal since their World Cup exit in Qatar 

The second half display was disappointing but this match will be defined by Kane’s goal, England’s first half display and the result. Let’s put the victory in perspective: this was England’s first win in Italy since 1961, it was also Italy’s first defeat in 41 European qualifiers, and Italy’s first home defeat in Euros qualifying since 1999. It was all achieved in a stadium that was supposed to be a cauldron. For much of the game, England turned the crowd mute. This was the kind of win that turns boys to men and gives players the confidence to be champions.

It was also significant because of the performances of Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka. There were times in the first half when Bellingham, who is still only 19, bestrode the game and made everyone else on the pitch look ordinary. He looked, quite simply, as if he were playing a different game to the rest. He and Saka and Rice and others are the cornerstones of a bright future.

England looked jittery in the early stages and Dii Lorenzo should have done better when a free kick from Lorenzo Pellegrini found him unmarked 10 yards out. England gave the ball away at will and their young Argentina-based striker Mateo Retegui fluffed another half-chance when he glanced a header wide from a corner.

Mateo Retegui pulled one back with a fine finish as the home side made big improvements after the half-time break 

Rice watches on as Italy striker Retegui celebrates after halving the deficit 10 minutes into the second half of the game 

It was Bellingham who settled England’s nerves. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder gave his team some respite when he collected the ball in his own half and drove between two Italy defenders to win a foul and after 13 minutes, he burst forward again, collected a pass from Jack Grealish, and unleashed a rising drive that was tipped over superbly by Donnarumma.

It was only a brief escape for Italy, though. Saka took the resulting corner and when it fell to Kane, his shot was deflected into the path of Rice. Rice swung his left foot at it from eight yards out and the ball flew past the Italy goalkeeper. It was a sweet moment for the West Ham skipper, a neat riposte to critics who say he does not score enough goals. This was a big one.

England wasted an opportunity to go further ahead when Jorginho lost the ball deep inside his own half and Kalvin Phillips advanced on goal. Kane had lost his marker and was waiting for Phillips to slip the ball to him but Phillips chose to shoot instead and the ball went just wide. Kane did not hide his displeasure.

England full-back Luke Shaw (3) was shown a red card after picking up two yellow cards in the space of a minute

Shaw looked dejected as he made his way off the pitch to leave his team-mates facing the final 10 minutes with 10 men 

The displeasure soon faded. Four minutes before half time, Kane jostled with Di Lorenzo at the back post as Saka swung over a corner from the right. As the ball dropped, it hit Di Lorenzo on the arm and, after a VAR check, the Serbian referee awarded a penalty. Kane stepped up and dispatched the penalty as coolly as you like before wheeling away to celebrate the record with his teammates.

On the stroke of half time, Kane proved again that he is so much more than a goalscorer. He escaped down the England right and bore down on goal but instead of shooting from a tight angle, he squared the ball unselfishly for Grealish. Grealish had an open goal but, for once, he got his technique all wrong and sliced the ball wide. Kane held his head in his hands in disbelief.

Ten minutes after half time, though, England allowed Italy back into the game. Harry Maguire gave the ball away deep in his own half, scythed down Nicolo Barella as he tried to clear up his own mess and then had to watch as the ball was worked to Retegui, who had run into the space Maguire should have been occupying. Retegui took one touch and then drilled his shot low past Jordan Pickford.

(L-R): Gareth Southgate, Steve Holland, Aaron Ramsdale and Jude Bellingham celebrate after the final whistle 

Now the stadium, which had been subdued by England’s dominance, came alive. Now Italy threw everything at England, who started to lose their shape and some of their discipline. Kane was lucky not to add a booking to his evening when he took a flying lunge at Di Lorenzo as he galloped down the right wing but missed him completely. England, so comfortable for so long, were now clinging on to their lead.

Shaw’s dismissal compounded the situation and England were once again open to accusations that they had sat back and allowed a team back into a game. It didn’t matter. Last night, the result was everything. Last night, Kane made history and the team made history, too. Euro 2024 should represent England’s best shot at winning a major trophy for nearly 60 years. Southgate and his side have taken the first step on the journey.

Source: Read Full Article