Harry Kane European Qualifiers Italy vs England

Mik Bowers. Dazn Bet’s very own football fanatic, and unashamed Man-U fan, brings us regular highlights of his favourite games. If you’ve missed the game, or just want a reminder, then Mik’s got you covered. Focusing mainly on FA Cup, The Premier League and occasional games from the major European tournaments, Mik gives us his thoughts on the matches.

Italy v England – The rematch

England off to a winning start

England faced Italy in the first of their two Euro qualifiers over the coming days, in what was a rematch of their Euro 2020 Final. Italy went on to win that match on penalties after Luke Shaw had given England the lead in the first two minutes of the game before Bonucci broke England’s hearts and equalised!

That game went on to extra time then the dreaded penalty shoot-out. England are not good in penalty shootouts, losing in 6 of them over the years! And the Euro final was no different. England lost 3 – 2 on pens!

Anyway, I digress, on to the latest England game!

England, playing at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Naples, home of SSC Napoli, had a very strong team against Roberto Mancini’s Italy. Mancini, the Italian team manager, had reportedly said he wanted to win this opening fixture and tribute the win to his friend Gianluca Vialli, who died in January this year aged just 58. Italy started stronger and could have been in front within 2 minutes. As with most England fixtures, it takes them a good 5 minutes to get into the game and this was no exception.

Declan Rice England goalscorer

England in front at the break

Although Italy started the stronger, England eventually got a foothold in the game, which looked as though it could get a bit niggly within the first 15 minutes with Italy pushing, pulling and leaving a leg in here and there. England then, spurred on by Captain Harry Kane, started to push back and on the stroke of 18 minutes took the lead from a corner.

Kane won the ball at the back post and the ball fell kindly to Declan Rice, the West Ham player linked with a move to rivals Arsenal, was there to push home the first for England.

After the goal it seemed to open the game up a bit more and for much of the second half there were chances at either end, with the very talented Jude Bellingham’s strike the pick of the chances. The Italian keeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, tipping over Bellingham’s goal-bound shot.

England were accused of time-wasting and the referee, Serbian Srdjan Jovanovic, booked Rice for taking too long at a free-kick, much to the amusement of Rice and the England camp.

On the stroke of half-time England were awarded a penalty after the Italian defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo was deemed to have handled the ball in the penalty area. The referee was invited to check the video replay and rightly awarded England the penalty. Up stepped England captain Harry Kane to power the ball into the corner. This was Kane’s first England goal in 103 days since drawing level with Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 goals.

Kane now stands alone up front with a record 54 goals and looks like carrying on for a few years to come!

Harry Kane England goalscorer

10 man England

England went into the half-time break 2 goals to the good and looked to be comfortable. Gareth Southgate, the England manager, didn’t see the need to make any changes and the game continued in the same fashion as the first half with chances at both ends. The referee continued to play his part and booked several of the England players for time-wasting. Luke Shaw, England’s right back booked for wasting time with a throw-in.

Just before the hour mark Italy pressed forward and Harry McGuire, who had a solid game for England, fouled Nicolo Barella but the referee waived play on because Italy had good possession. Mateo Retegui, the Italian striker who was making his debut for Italy, striking low into Jordan Pickford’s net. This spurred on Italy who then looked as though they could finish the stronger, with the home crowd playing their part.

In the 78th minute, Luke Shaw was shown a 2nd yellow for a very innocuous challenge on Retegui and England were down to 10 men.

Mateo Retegui Italy Goalscorer

England top the group

Despite the obvious disadvantage of 10 men against resurgent Italy, who didn’t look to the same team who beat England in the 2020 Euro final, England held on for the final 15 or so minutes to take all 3 points in the tie. The visitors held out for a hard-fought and probably deserved victory in this opening group C  fixture which was their first win in Italy since 1961.

Southgate has now amassed 50 wins as England manager, only the 3rd England manager to do this (Walter Winterbottom and Sir Alf Ramsey the other 2).

England top the group with North Macedonia, who beat Malta at home 2 – 1, and look to be on course to do well in the group and the competition.

 

Verdict

The referee had a major influence on the game, which could have gone either way. Italy weren’t as strong as the team that beat England in the Euro’s last time out, but they still put up a tough game for England.

For me though, England just about deserved the win, playing better football and creating more chances.

Next game, Ukraine, which should be an easier encounter, but, who knows given current affairs.