Gareth Southgate’s England faced Italy in Naples on Thursday evening – the first time the city has hosted the national team in nine years. A heated atmosphere awaited the travelling fans, just a week after fights broke out ahead of the Frankfurt v Napoli game.
ITA: Donnarumma; Spinazzola, Acerbi, Tolói, Di Lorenzo; Verratti, Jorginho, Barella; Pellegrini, Retegui, Berardi
ENG: Pickford; Shaw, Maguire, Stones, Walker; Rice, Bellingham, Phillips; Grealish, Kane, Saka
Despite a slow start to the game, England sought to find their way into the Italy box through a combination of Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish – the latter of whom should have been awarded a free-kick after he was hauled to the ground by Giovanni Di Lorenzo, but the referee failed to award the set piece.
Bukayo Saka worked his way into the penalty area soon after, with a mazy run sending him through on goal, though his relatively tame effort was saved with easy by Gianluigi Donnarumma. The Three Lions won a corner not much later, but that was parried away well by the Italian ‘keeper who was fouled in the process.
Jude Bellingham forced a great save from Gianlugi Donnarumma a few minutes later, after a great counterattack sent the BVB midfielder though on goal. The Italian ‘keeper was only able to put it behind for a corner, which Bukayo Saka powered into the box. Harry Kane’s initial shot from the back post was blocked, but Declan Rice was in the perfect position to fire home the rebound and send England 1-0 up after just 13 minutes.
Kalvin Phillips came close to bagging his first international goal with thirty minutes on the clock, as he drove a low shot towards goal from distance – but it was just wide of the post, much to Harry Kane’s anneal, as the Spurs striker was unmarked and in a much better position to shoot from.
The Three Lions were given the chance to double their lead from the spot five minutes before half-time, as Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s arm kept Harry Kane from taking a shot following Bukayo Saka’s corner. A lengthy VAR check followed, and the Serbian referee awarded a penalty – which Harry Kane powered into the back of the net to claim his 54th goal for England, becoming the country’s top goalscorer in the process.
Jack Grealish missed a brilliant opportunity to make it 3-0 to England in injury time, but Gareth Southgate’s side still headed into half-time with a two-goal advantage over the side that claimed that infamous EURO final win at Wembley two years ago.
Italy halved the deficit ten minutes into the second half – as debutant Mateo Retegui fired home from close range, beating Jordan Pickford before the ball nestled into the bottom left corner. Nicolò Barella had been fouled by Harry Maguire in the buildup, but the referee let play continue and the hosts took full advantage.
That goal seemed to breathe some life back into Roberto Mancini’s side, who began to appear relentless in their search for an equaliser. England didn’t make life easy for themselves either though, as Luke Shaw was dismissed for a second yellow card with ten minutes left to play – both offences came within a minute of eachother!
A fantastic cross into the box from Wilfried Gnonto was parried away well by Jordan Pickford, and gli Azzurri were unable to make much of the rebound either. The Leeds winger had been causing plenty of problems on the left flank since he replaced Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Gareth Southgate’s substitutions allowed an extra body to join the England defence.
Despite five minutes of injury time at the end of the ninety minutes, Roberto Mancini’s side were unable to find the back of the net once again – meaning Gareth Southgate’s side return home with a crucial three points ahead of their game against Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.