Kane at the double as England qualify with some to spare

Brian Jeeves

England v Italy – Euro 2024 Group C Qualifier – Wembley Stadium – Report

England 3-1 Italy

Harry Kane scored twice as England booked their place at next year’s Euros after coming from behind to secure a long overdue home victory over Italy at Wembley Stadium.

Gareth Southgate’s men went into the game topping Group C with thirteen points from a possible fifteen, needing only a draw to secure their passage to the finals in Germany next summer.

Unsurprisingly, Southgate reverted to a more familiar line-up, changing all eleven starters from the side that had seen off Australia by a goal to nil in Friday’s Wembley warm-up match.

Incredibly, you have to go back to November 16, 1977, for England’s last victory over the Italians at The Home of Football. That night, goals from Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking earned the Three Lions a 2-0 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group Two success in front of an audience of 92,000. Unfortunately, the victory proved insufficient as Ron Greenwood’s side failed to make the showpiece event, staged in Argentina.

With that bogey in mind, England didn’t get off to a particularly good start. Gianluca Scamacca didn’t enjoy a particularly successful spell in the Premier League with West Ham. However, the unmarked Atalanta striker was on hand to convert from close range after Giovanni Di Lorenzo had drilled in from the right.

Buoyed by the goal, Italy and Scammaca almost doubled their money. This time, England stopper Jordan Pickford was relieved to see the former’s thumping effort whistle the wrong side of an upright. Wembley nervously held its breath.

Gianluigi Donnarumma comfortably saved Jude Bellingham’s tame header. But seconds later, the Real Madrid maestro was sent tumbling by Di Lorenzo. Following a lengthy, seemingly unnecessary VAR check, skipper Kane fired home from the resulting spot-kick, his sixtieth goal for his country.

England’s Harry Kane celebrates scoring from the penalty spot against Italy at Wembley Stadium (Rob Newell CameraSport)

Donnarumma again denied Bellingham, this time after Kane had turned creator, while shortly after the restart, Kalvin Phillips fired over as the home side began to take the initiative.

Shortly before the hour, England forged ahead. Bellingham dashed forward before picking out Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United man cut in onto his right foot before dispatching low beyond the statuesque Donnarumma, much to the delight of the sellout home crowd.

With the bit seemingly between their teeth, England came close to a third. However, Donnarumma got down low to his left to thwart Manchester City’s Phil Foden. Nevertheless, the Italian keeper could do very little to stop Kane netting his second after the Bayern Munich frontman had brushed off the attentions of Alessandro Bastoni.

While the result ensured England’s comfortable route through with two matches, against North Macedonia and Malta, to spare, the troubled Italian holders, so often contenders at major tournaments, look likely to miss out as they have in recent years.

England: Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Declan Rice, John Stones (Marc Guéhi 63′), Harry Maguire, Phil Foden, Kalvin Phillips (Jordan Henderson 70′), Harry Kane (Capt), Jude Bellingham (Jack Grealish 85′), Marcus Rashford Subs not used: Sam Johnstone (GK), Aaron Ramsdale (GK), Lewis Dunk, Levi Colwill, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Gallagher, Ollie Watkins, James Maddison, Jarrod Bowen

Booked: Kalvin Phillips (foul)

Goals: Harry Kane (penalty) 32′, 77′, Marcus Rashford 57′

Italy: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Destiny Udogie (Federico Dimarco 63′), Gianluca Scamacca (Moise Kean 63′), Domenico Berardi (Giacomo Raspadori 78′), Francesco Acerbi (Alessandro Bastoni 63′), Bryan Cristante, Davide Frattesi, Nicolò Barella, Giorgio Scalvini, Stephan El Shaarawy (Riccardo Orsolini 87′) Subs not used: Guglielmo Vicario (GK), Alex Meret (GK), Federico Gatti, Manuel Locatelli, Giacomo Bonaventura, Matteo Darmian, Gianluca Mancini

Booked: Destiny Udogie (foul), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (foul), Giorgio Scalvini (foul)

Goals: Gianluca Scamacca 15′

Referee: Clément Turpin (France)

Assistants: Nicolas Danos and Erwan Finjean (both from France)

Fourth Official: Ruddy Buquet (France)

Video Assistant Referee: Jérôme Brisard (France)

Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Pierre Gaillouste (France)

Attendance: 83,194

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk