Italy 1-2 England: Three Lions cling to vital win to kick off Euro 2024 qualifiers
England held off a late ten-man Italy fightback to secure a vital win to start their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.
After a tricky first few minutes, the Three Lions moved into Napoli and started passing the ball with intent through Jude Bellingham in particular.
A fine counter-attack from their own corner saw the young midfielder test Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 14th minute, moments before taking the lead.
A deep corner from Bukayo Saka was blasted towards goal by Harry Kane, whose effort deflected into the malstrom for Declan Rice to power home.
The Three Lions settled into a comfortable pace against a tame Italian front line, led by debutant Mateo Regetui, and doubled their lead late in the first half from another deep corner.
This time Giovanni Di Lorenzo handled the ball in his showdown with Kane and the referee pointed the spot after VAR interfered. Kane stepped in to bury his 54th goal, breaking England’s all-time record.
It should have been 3-0 before the end of the first half as Kane rolled in a cross for Jack Grealish, who clipped a far post effort across the face of goal and wide from just a few yards.
England started the second half slow and were punished when Harry Maguire dived, leaving his area exposed by Regetui to swoop in and slam home a 56th-minute reply.
Italy continued to raise the bar but failed to retest Jordan Pickford, although the visitors’ task became much more difficult when Luke Shaw landed two bookings in as many minutes.
The final ten minutes, plus five of stoppage time, were nonetheless safely sailed as England secured their first away win against the Azzurri since 1961.