Ten-man England held on to secure their first away win in Italy since 1961 with a battling display in Naples on Thursday night as eclipsed as the nation’s all-time top scorer.
There were question marks going into the match over whether ’s side would suffer any kind of hangover from the , but they put those concerns to bed in a 2-1 victory that sets up their Euro 2024 qualification campaign perfectly.
England had to dig in, though, with a late red card for Luke Shaw forcing the team to resist wave after wave of attack in the final embers of the match.
It was also an , who netted his 54th goal in an England shirt to eclipse Wayne Rooney’s tally and claim the goalscoring record outright.
The hosts made a relatively bright start to the match with several promising raids forward, but they fell behind in the 13th minute from a set-piece as Declan Rice netted his third international goal for England.
A deep corner from Bukayo Saka found its way to the back post where Kane fired off a shot which was blocked, though the rebound landed perfectly for Rice to swing his left boot at.
England took control from then onwards and found plenty of opportunities on the break, cutting open the Italian rear-guard but lacking a telling final pass; Jude Bellingham looked especially dangerous on the turn and was inches away from connecting with a low cross from Kane.
A turnover high up the pitch presented Kalvin Phillips – a somewhat surprising inclusion in the starting XI given his lack of game time for Manchester City – with a chance to either feed Kane or shoot and he elected to do the latter, sending his effort just wide.
Kane was then presented with the chance to claim England’s all-time scoring record outright shortly before half-time when Giovanni Di Lorenzo was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box after an intervention from VAR.
Kane had missed his last spot-kick in his last appearances for the Three Lions – in the World Cup quarter-final defeat to France – but he made no mistake in Naples, sending Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way.
England should have bagged a third goal before the break as Kane turned provider this time, hitting the by-line and crossing for Jack Grealish who sliced his volley wide with the goal gaping.
Italy looked far more dangerous after the restart and got back into the game after some poor defending from Harry Maguire; the Manchester United centre-back passed straight to a blue shirt, then ploughed out of defence – and straight through Nicolo Barella – to try and make up for his error only to leave a gaping hole.
That presented Mateo Retegui with an opportunity to rifle the ball into the far corner from close range, marking his Italy debut with a goal after being drafted in from the Argentinian top-flight courtesy of his Sicilian grandfather.
A lot of the confidence from England’s first-half display evaporated as Italy applied increasing pressure as they sought an equaliser, with Roberto Mancini’s changes – particularly the introduction of Leeds United’s Wilfried Gnonto – providing fresh impetus.
Incredibly, with 10 minutes left to play, England were reduced to 10 men when Shaw was shown two yellow cards in the space of just 54 seconds – the first of which was rather harshly given for time-wasting.
That prompted something of an onslaught from the hosts, who had England camped inside their own box for large spells, but a resilient and dogged defensive display – and some clever hold-up play from the skipper – saw the Three Lions cling on to three points.
England’s win over Italy is their first in seven meetings between the two sides – one of which, notably, was the Euro 2020 final – dating back over a decade. They are next in action against Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.
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