Harry Kane’s brace fired England to UEFA Euro 2024 qualification with a 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley Stadium.
Kane smashed in on a 77th minute counter-attack to secure a 3-1 win for England, having equalised from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute after Jude Bellingham had been fouled inside the box.
Ex West Ham striker, Gianluca Scamacca had initially put Italy in front with a 15th minute tap-in goal, before Marcus Rashford turned the tie around for the Three Lions with his 57th minute strike from Bellingham’s counter-attacking pass.
Speaking to Channel 4 post-match, Kane commented: “Qualifying is never easy. Sometimes we are just expected to go to the big tournaments but we have seen in the past it is not as easy as it looks.
“We went 1-0 behind and stayed calm. We knew we coiuld get the winner and we have done it.”
England have now wrapped up qualification as Qualifying Group C winners with two games left to spare, whilst Italy slipped to third after Ukraine won 3-1 away to Malta.
England manager, Gareth Southgate made 11 changes prior to kick-off with the entire starting line-up of their friendly win over Australia dropped to the bench, as players like Jordan Pickford, Bellingham and Kane came into the team.
His gamble soon looked to have paid off as England displayed more energy than they managed for the majority of their victory against Australia, yet lacked end product as Kane saw a fourth minute flicked header saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
England’s wasteful finishing was soon punished in the 15th minute as Italy broke forward and Giovanni Di Lorenzo curled in a low cross, which was flicked on by Davide Frattesi for Scamacca to smash in just metres from goal to put the reigning European champions ahead.
Scamacca missed a chance to double Italy’s lead in the 23rd minute as he dragged his shot wide from goal.
England continued to press as Bellingham saw a 27th minute header saved but the 20 year-old drew a foul from Di Lorenzo a minute later as he broke through on goal.
Kane stepped up after a lengthy VAR check and smashed his penalty into the right corner to restore parity in the 32nd minute, as England needed just one point to seal their qualification.
Rashford almost put England ahead in the 44th minute as he unleashed a low powerful shot from the edge of the box, but Donnarumma made a crucial block which kept the score level at half-time.
Destiny Udogie however almost put Italy back ahead in the second minute of first half injury-time, as he picked up Domenico Berardi’s pass but his shot was deflected wide with the subsequent corner cleared.
The Italian however nearly found himself in trouble early in the second half with a 48th minute foul on Phil Foden just inside the box, only for referee – Clement Turpin to wave away England’s penalty appeals.
Kalvin Phillips then curled over the bar three minutes later as England continued to dominate the start of the second half.
England’s control eventually got rewarded in the 57th minute as an intercepted clearance sparked a rapid counter-attack, led by Bellingham who teed up Rashford to cut in and side-step Di Lorenzo plus Udogie to curl into the far-bottom right corner to put the hosts ahead.
Despite Scamacca’s 61st minute shot which found Pickford’s arms, Italy struggled to offer much threat going forward for much of the second half.
Such was their little quality and heavy defending, they were once again beaten on a counter-attack as Kane broke forward from substitute, Marc Guehi’s powerful forward pass and calmly smashed in beyond Donnarumma to seal victory.
England host Malta on 17 November (7:45pm GMT), before they wrap up their qualifying campaign away to North Macedonia on 20 November (8:45pm CET: 7:45pm UK Time) in Skopje.
Italy host North Macedonia at Stadio Olimpico on 17 November, before concluding their qualifying campaign with an away clash against Ukraine in Leverkusen, Germany on 20 November.
England: Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones (Guehi 63′), Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Kalvin Phillips (Henderson 69′), Declan Rice, Marcus Rashford, Jude Bellingham (Grealish 85′), Phil Foden, Harry Kane
Substitutes: Marc Guehi, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Henderson, Lewis Dunk, Levi Colwill, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Connor Gallagher, Ollie Watkins, Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Aaron Ramsdale, Jarrod Bowen
Italy: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Giorgio Scalvini, Francesco Acerbi (Bastoni 63′), Destiny Udogie (Dimarco 63′), Davide Frattesi, Bryan Cristante, Nicolo Barella, Domenico Berardi (Raspadori 78′), Gianluca Scamacca (Kean 63′), Stephan El Shaarawy (Orsolini 87′)
Substitutes: Federico Dimarco, Federico Gatti, Manuel Locatelli, Moise Kean, Giacomo Bonaventura, Giacomo Raspadori, Guglielmo Vicario, Matteo Darmain, Gianluca Mancini, Riccardo Orsolini, Alex Meret, Alessandro Bastoni
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)