Harry Kane scored a historic goal for England as they claimed a narrow 2-1 win over Italy at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples. The win helped the Three Lions get off to a perfect start in Group C, and was their first in Italy since 1961.
Following their disappointing quarterfinal exit at the hands of France at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, England were playing their first international match. Their opponents were Italy, a side that defeated them in the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley. The match was held in Naples as the Azzurri returned to the city for the first time in a decade.
England looked superior from the first whistle, with Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Kalvin Phillips bossing the game against the Italian trio of Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella in midfield. The Three Lions deservedly went in front through the West Ham captain after only 13 minutes. The midfielder was on hand to finish from inside the box after a Harry Kane attempt was blocked.
The Three Lions exuded control in the game, with the Italians left chasing shadows in front of their own fans. With half-time approaching, England got their second goal of the game.
Harry Kane got up for a header at the back post, only for Napoli right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo to block his attempt with his hand. The VAR awarded the penalty to England, and their captain Kane stepped up to fire past Gianluigi Donnarumma to net his 54th goal for his country in the 44th minute. The Tottenham Hotspur striker has now become his country’s record goalscorer, eclipsing the record of 53 goals previously held by Wayne Rooney.
There was time for more drama as Kane set up Jack Grealish on the stroke of half-time. The Manchester City man failed to score despite having a gaping net in front of him, and the scores remained 2-0 at the break. The home fans booed their players as they headed into the interval.
Italy emerged for the second half more energised as they looked for ways to punish their visitors. It took only ten minutes of the second half for the Azzurri to pull one goal back through Argentina-born striker Mateo Retegui. The debutant fired an effort past Jordan Pickford after clumsy defending from Harry Maguire.
Italy improved after their goal, but were unable to find a way past England. The Three Lions ended the game with ten men after Luke Shaw received two yellow cards in quick succession. The first came for time-wasting in the 78th minute before he received a second two minutes later for a rash challenge.
England held on for a deserved win on a record-breaking night for Harry Kane. They inflicted a first defeat in Euros qualifying on Italy in 41 games and a first home defeat in Euros qualifying since 1999. The Three Lions will face Ukraine next at Wembley on Sunday.