Ten-man England claimed a 2-1 win over their UEFA Euro 2020 conquerors Italy, thanks to Harry Kane's record-breaking penalty to get their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign off to the perfect start. In the process, Gareth Southgate's side secured their first victory in bel paese against the Azzurri since 1961.
The Three Lions' opener arrived in the 13th minute when a dangerous Bukayo Saka corner caused havoc in the Italian box. Kane got on the end of it, but his shot was blocked. The ball fell to Declan Rice, and the midfielder struck home past Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
England were out for revenge following their Euro 2020 final defeat to the Azzurri. They grabbed their second in the 43rd minute from the penalty spot. Serbian referee Srdjan Jovanovic was advised by VAR to look at a potential handball by Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
A spot-kick was awarded, and Kane made no mistake. He buried the ball past Donnarumma to score his 54th goal for the Three Lions. He's now England's all-time leading top goalscorer, moving ahead of Wayne Rooney.
It nearly got even better for Southgate's men when they came racing on the attack in the 45+1st minute. Kane played a superb ball to Jack Grealish, but with the goal gaping, the Manchester City attacker lashed agonisingly wide.
Italy were a much better side in the second half and pulled one back in the 56th minute. Luca Pellegrini played a brilliant diagonal pass to release Argentinian-born striker Mateo Retegui. He drove home a superb low effort past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to net on his international debut.
Gli Azzurri boss Roberto Martinez must have galvanised his troops at half-time. The hosts were on top throughout the second half. They were demanding that Luke Shaw be sent off in the 77th minute after a challenge on Retegui. The Manchester United left-back had just been handed a yellow card for time wasting.
Shaw was eventually given a second booking and subsequently handed his marching orders. The Red Devils man was handed two yellow cards in 54 seconds.
England were hanging on in the final stages following Shaw's dismissal. The Italians bombarded Pickford's goal with numerous chances. However, the Three Lions held firm to carve out a memorable win.
It was their first win in Italy in 62 years and their first over the Azzurri since a 2-1 win in a friendly in 2012. One fan recalled the Euro final defeat:
"Italy doesn’t want it. GG England. Finally got their revenge."
Meanwhile, another fan has called for Kane to leave Tottenham Hotspur as he continues to shatter records:
"Record England goalscorer. Kane needs to leave Spurs asap."
Here's how Twitter reacted to the Three Lions' superb victory at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona:
England's Harry Kane took responsibility for 2022 FIFA World Cup exit
England made a heartbreaking exit from the FIFA World Cup last December following a 2-1 defeat to France in the quarterfinals. Aurelien Tchouameni gave Les Bleus the lead with a fine strike in the 17th minute.
However, Southgate's men equalised through Kane, who slotted home a 54th-minute penalty. They were perhaps the better side but went 2-1 down when Olivier Giroud headed home Antoine Griezmann's brilliant cross.
They were given a golden opportunity to equalise when Mason Mount was brought down by Theo Hernandez. Kane stepped up again but this time sent his effort sailing high over France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris' crossbar.
He was devastated and crestfallen following the defeat. He accepted responsibility, saying (via talkSPORT):
"I am gutted; the team are gutted. We had full belief that we could achieve something special at this World Cup, but it came down to small details."
“I thought on the night we had the better chances and better spells in the game. It comes down to execution. As captain, I take it on the chin and responsibility missing the penalty."
Kane has bounced back with a brilliant display against Italy. He has broken a record and continued his superb season for club and country.