England books Euro 2024 spot with 3-1 win over scandal-hit Italy
LONDON (AP) — England booked its place at next summer’s European Championship with a 3-1 win over defending champion Italy at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.
England had to come from behind following Gianluca Scamacca’s first goal for the Azzurri. But two goals from Harry Kane — including a penalty — and a Marcus Rashford strike gave Gareth Southgate’s team the victory it needed to secure at least a top-two finish in its group.
Italy, which is embroiled in another football scandal, could face the prospect of playoffs and even failure to qualify for a second straight major tournament. The Azzurri lost a playoff to North Macedonia last year and didn’t qualify for the World Cup, just a year after winning the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020. It also missed out on the 2018 World Cup after losing a playoff to Sweden.
England leads Group C, three points ahead of Ukraine, which won 3-1 at Malta, and six points above Italy.
The Azzurri play North Macedonia and Ukraine in their final qualifying matches next month.
Italy travelled to England without a number of players through injury and a betting scandal. Premier League midfielders Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Zaniolo left the Italy camp last week after being questioned by police over alleged involvement in an illegal betting ring.
It was the first time Italy had played England at Wembley since beating Southgate’s team on penalties to win the European Championship in 2021.
And the Azzurri took the lead in the 15th minute when Giovanni Di Lorenzo rolled the ball across from the right and Davide Frattesi completely missed the ball but Scamacca fired into the roof of the net.
That was Scamacca’s first goal for Italy — coming in his 13th appearance — and he nearly had a second eight minutes later but he fired just wide of the left upright.
England leveled in the 32nd minute when Kane converted a penalty after Jude Bellingham had been brought down by Di Lorenzo.
Both teams had good chances on the stroke of halftime as Rashford drew a good save from Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Destiny Udogie had an effort parried at the other end.
England turned the match around completely in the 57th minute when Bellingham sprinted from inside his own half and spread it to Rashford, who then cut inside from the left and thumped the ball into the back of the net.
Kane sealed the match in the 77th minute as he took advantage of some poor Italy defending to get on the end of a long ball and race forward before beating Donnarumma.