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England 3-1 Italy: Harry Kane nets superb brace to send Three Lions to Euro 2024 with Marcus Rashford also on target to help Gareth Southgate’s men come from behind after Azzuri took the lead through Gianluca Scamacca


It was 50 years ago last night when Jan Tomaszewski, a Polish goalkeeper that Brian Clough had called ‘a clown’, made save after save after save at Wembley to frustrate an England team that had entered a slow decline.

Sir Alf Ramsey’s side featured Colin Bell, Roy McFarland, Norman Hunter and Allan Clarke but they could only draw 1-1 with Poland on a fraught night at Wembley. The result meant Ramsey’s team had failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup.

That failure ended the era that had begun with the triumph in the 1966 World Cup Final. Tomaszewski’s performance entered folklore and began to be used as shorthand for bad memories. Its anniversary was not a particularly auspicious omen.

But at the end of a troubled few days when Gareth Southgate has spent as much time talking about the colours of the Wembley arch and defending Jordan Henderson’s move to the Saudi Pro League and taking yet more unmerited criticism for his players taking a knee before past matches, recalling that night in 1973 served a purpose.

Because even if England were not at their fluent best, they came from behind to beat Italy 3-1, gained a measure of revenge for their Euro 2020 final defeat here two years ago and recorded their first home win over the Azzurri since November 1977.

Harry Kane's double inspired a superb England to a come from behind win against Italy to seal their place at Euro 2024

Harry Kane’s double inspired a superb England to a come from behind win against Italy to seal their place at Euro 2024

Kane was in sensational form to lead the Three Lions to a 3-1 win against the Azzurri

Kane was in sensational form to lead the Three Lions to a 3-1 win against the Azzurri

Marcus Rashford - who netted the second - was also excellent against a strong Italy side

Marcus Rashford – who netted the second – was also excellent against a strong Italy side

England only needed a point to confirm their place in next summer's tournament in Germany but they sealed it in style on Tuesday night

England only needed a point to confirm their place in next summer’s tournament in Germany but they sealed it in style on Tuesday night

Oh, yes, and in the process, they qualified for next summer’s European Championships. With two games to spare. Inspired by a player, Jude Bellingham, who has a claim to be the best in the world. Helped on their way to victory by the 60th and 61st international goals of Harry Kane’s career.

It is also worth pointing out, particularly for those who continue to vilify Southgate for reasons which are increasingly hard to understand, that the crucial second goal was scored by Marcus Rashford, a forward perceived to be out of form and who many had urged Southgate to drop.

And so even if England were not at their best, the fact is they beat Italy when England were having an off night. Just like they beat them at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples in March. Southgate’s will go to the tournament in Germany next summer as one of the favourites and that is a status they deserve.

This was not a vintage Italy side. Winning Euro 2020 ushered in a bleak period for the national team, they have a new coach, Luciano Spalletti, and their woes increased this week when Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo left the squad because they are at the centre of a betting investigation.

England were stunned in the first half as ex-West Ham man Gianluca Scamacca put Italy ahead

England were stunned in the first half as ex-West Ham man Gianluca Scamacca put Italy ahead

It was the forward's first goal for his country and came against the run of play at Wembley

It was the forward’s first goal for his country and came against the run of play at Wembley

Southgate made 11 changes from the team that beat Australia in last week’s friendly, which meant recalls for Maguire and Phillips and Marcus Rashford and the predictable dismay from some quarters that the manager was keeping faith with players who have never let him down.

In the stadium, the mood was rather different. Maguire’s name was sung loudly by fans behind one of the goals and England started with their now customary assurance and elan. Control was only interrupted when Phillips was booked for a tackle on Davide Frattesi.

England were given a rude awakening after a quarter of an hour, though, when Italy took the lead. Gianluigi Donnarumma started the move by turning nonchalantly inside Kane on the edge of his six-yard box and then playing the ball out to the Italy left.

The ball was worked upfield and played into the path of Giovanni di Lorenzo, who was overlapping down the right. Di Lorenzo cut the ball back across the face of goal, Frattesi swung wildly at it and missed and former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca lifted the ball high into the net from point blank range.

The excellent Jude Bellingham was then hacked down by Napoli star Giovanni Di Lorenzo

The excellent Jude Bellingham was then hacked down by Napoli star Giovanni Di Lorenzo

Captain Kane made no mistake from the spot as he sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the other way

Captain Kane made no mistake from the spot as he sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the other way

The Bayern Munich striker netted his 60th goal in the process to continue his electric form for his country

The Bayern Munich striker netted his 60th goal in the process to continue his electric form for his country

It was Atalanta striker Scamacca’s first goal for his country and he and his team were emboldened by it. Scamacca whistled a left foot shot just past Jordan Pickford’s right hand post soon afterwards and Italy seemed to threaten England’s goal every time they attacked.

The crowd stilled. That old companion, doubt, began to linger in the night air. England began to look pedestrian, moving the ball slowly and uncertainly. It needed a typically buccaneering intervention from Bellingham to bring England back into the match and re-energise the crowd.

The Real Madrid midfielder burst forward on the edge of Italy box, broke a tackle and then got to a loose ball ahead of Di Lorenzo that he had no right to reach first. Di Lorenzo pointed to the ball but replays showed he had not touched the ball. Kane dispatched the penalty emphatically.

England needed fine interventions from Maguire and John Stones to thwart more dangerous Italian incursions and Italy should have gone back into the lead on the stroke of half time.

Spurs’ Destiny Udogie cut inside his man eight yards out and tried to curl a right foot shot beyond Pickford but the Everton goalkeeper got down sharply to his left to push it out and England deflected the follow-up away for a corner.

Rashford then combined superbly with Bellingham to put England ahead in the second half

Rashford then combined superbly with Bellingham to put England ahead in the second half

Kane pounced on a poor Italy mistake before charging down on goal and bagging a third

Kane pounced on a poor Italy mistake before charging down on goal and bagging a third 

The 30-year-old is embraced by Rashford after his heroics helped England race away

The 30-year-old is embraced by Rashford after his heroics helped England race away

Gareth Southgate will be delighted with the confident display ahead of next year's tournament

Gareth Southgate will be delighted with the confident display ahead of next year’s tournament

England controlled the tempo of the game at the beginning of the second half and took the lead 12 minutes after the break. Bellingham, inevitably, was the inspiration for the goal, breaking up an Italy attack on the edge of the England box before racing on to a clever pass from Phil Foden.

Bellingham laid the ball out to Rashford on the left and as Bellingham drew players away from him with a superb diagonal run, the Manchester United striker cut inside Di Lorenzo and smashed an unstoppable shot past Donnarumma, who barely moved as it flew into the net.

Henderson came on midway through the half to replace Phillips and if there were some boos, there were some cheers, too. England are heading for the finals in Germany. There was no point besmirching that with jeers.

Kane set the seal on the victory with a breakaway and clinical finish 14 minutes from time. England’s fightback was complete. They are heading to another major finals and for all our increased expectations, the memories of Tomaszewski, 1973 and all that were a reminder that nights like this should never be taken for granted.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

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