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England seal Euro 2024 berth as Kane double sinks Italy

FBL EURO QUALIFIER ENG ITA

England booked their place at Euro 2024 as Harry Kane’s double inspired an impressive fightback to beat holders Italy 3-1 at Wembley on Tuesday.

Needing a point to be certain of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Germany, Gareth Southgate’s side fell behind to Gianluca Scamacca’s early goal.

But, fuelled by a superb display from Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham, England hit back to equalise before the break through Kane’s penalty.

Bellingham had won the spot-kick with a typically thrusting run and the 20-year-old prodigy was also the catalyst for Marcus Rashford’s decisive strike after the interval.

Underlining his own importance to the England cause, Kane struck again in the closing stages to give the skipper his 61st goal for the Three Lions.

With two group games still to play, unbeaten England, winners of five of their six qualifiers, are guaranteed to finish top of Group C.

Following their failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup, Italy face a tense battle to secure the second automatic qualification place in the group.

Luciano Spalletti’s third-placed team are three points behind Ukraine.

Assured of a play-off place, Italy host North Macedonia before travelling to Ukraine in their remaining matches.

England have suffered just one defeat in their last 63 Euro and World Cup qualifiers, but reaching major tournaments hasn’t been the issue in the Southgate era.

It is his ability to end England’s wait for a first international men’s trophy since the 1966 World Cup that will define Southgate’s reign.

Beaten on penalties by Italy in the European Championship final at Wembley two years ago, England have gained a measure of revenge by defeating the Italians twice in the group.

Southgate believes his team are a more complete side than the one that lost the Euro final.

And with stars like Kane and Bellingham at his disposal, there can be no excuses if they fail to bring home the silverware from Germany.

AFP