At the iconic Wembley, England's spirited comeback dazzled as they overcame Italy 3-1 in a crucial UEFA European Championship Qualifier. While needing just a point to seal their Euro 2024 berth, Gareth Southgate's men showcased resilience after an early setback, with the dynamic duo of Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham propelling them to a memorable victory and leaving Italy pondering their qualification journey.
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England vs Italy Highlights: UEFA European Championship Qualifiers
Football • 18 Oct, 2023 • 1,620 Views • ⭐ 5.0
Written by Anand Swami
A Shocking Start for England
Within the initial 15 minutes, Italy seemed to have caught the Three Lions sleeping. Declan Rice's missed tackle turned into a golden opportunity for Italy, with Di Lorenzo swiftly moving the ball forward. His finely-calculated cross set the stage for Gianluca Scamacca, who did not falter in seizing the moment. Scamacca's maiden international goal wasn't just a personal achievement; it sent a message, challenging England to respond. The unexpected early lead threw a spanner in Southgate's strategies, prompting the question: could England mount a comeback?
Bellingham: The Game Changer
Amid the mounting pressure, Jude Bellingham, channelling his Real Madrid excellence, stepped up to be England's beacon of hope. Around the 32nd minute, Bellingham's bold charge towards the goal was abruptly stopped by Di Lorenzo's challenge. The subsequent VAR review became the game's talking point. When Kane stepped up to take the penalty, all eyes were on him. His successful conversion was a testament not only to his skill but also to England's resilience. Bellingham's persistent threats to the Italian defence underscored his invaluable role in the team, changing the momentum in England's favour.
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England's Close Shave
As the halftime whistle loomed, Italy nearly delivered a sucker punch. Destiny Udogie, capitalizing on a fleeting opportunity, released a powerful shot that seemed destined for the net. However, Jordan Pickford's swift reflexes denied Italy, producing a save that was worth its weight in gold. That moment was a stark reminder of the game's unpredictability. Pickford's heroics ensured England remained in contention, setting the stage for what would become a memorable second half.
The Turning Point
The second half's 57th minute became the turning point. Bellingham, ever the dynamo, showcased his exceptional skill by reclaiming possession and launching a rapid counter-attack. Rather than seeking personal glory, Bellingham spotted Marcus Rashford in a better position. His pass was inch-perfect, allowing Rashford to slot the ball past a helpless Donnarumma. This goal wasn't just about taking the lead; it was a statement of intent from the English side.
Kane Seals the Deal
As Italy sought a comeback, England's captain had other plans. In the 77th minute, Harry Kane's predatory instincts came to the fore. Pouncing on a slight misjudgment by Giorgio Scalvini, Kane's finish was the embodiment of precision and composure. With that goal, Kane didn't just extend England's lead; he virtually confirmed their ticket to Germany, leaving Italy ruing their missed opportunities.
Italy's Qualification Quandary
The loss put Italy in a precarious position. Currently trailing Ukraine by three points, the looming possibility of missing another major tournament has become palpable. The off-field controversies, especially the withdrawals of Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo due to betting allegations, add another layer of complexity. As Luciano Spalletti's men regroup, their upcoming fixtures will be under intense scrutiny, with the nation hoping for a resurgence.
Southgate's Trophy Aspirations
Gareth Southgate's tenure as England's manager has been marked by successful qualifications for major tournaments. However, the true test lies in claiming an international trophy. Falling short against Italy in the European Championship final two years ago at Wembley, Southgate now believes his squad has evolved into a more formidable unit. With talents like Kane and Bellingham, the anticipation is high, and the nation hopes to end the trophy drought since the 1966 World Cup triumph.
This enthralling Wembley showdown not only marked England's triumphant retaliation against the reigning European champions but also cast shadows on Italy's path to Euro 2024. With Kane's scoring prowess and Bellingham's midfield brilliance, England's Euro aspirations shine brightly. Meanwhile, Italy, once conquerors, now face a daunting road to reassert their dominance.
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