England’s relegation from League A was confirmed as Gareth Southgate’s side were defeated 1-0 by Italy at the San Siro in the Nations League.
Going into the game, the Three Lions needed to at least avoid defeat in Milan to stand a chance of taking their fate into the final match in Group A3 against Germany on Monday.
The Italians almost took an early lead in the eighth minute, but Federico Dimarco’s cross was headed onto the bar by Gianluca Scamacca, with Nick Pope getting the faintest of touches on the ball to help it onto the woodwork.
Despite what was at stake, the game struggled to get into life following that early Italy chance as both sides were unable to create many more clear opportunities in the first half.
The Azzurri finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute, as Giacomo Raspadori fired in a brilliant powerful strike into the far corner from inside the penalty area.
Italy almost doubled their lead with six minutes remaining, but Dimarco’s shot towards the far post came back off the upright.
Roberto Mancini’s side held on to inflict England’s third defeat in five international matches.
TALKING POINT – PRESSURE HEAPING ON SOUTHGATE
For England, this latest defeat now represents the nation’s worst run of form in over eight years as the Three Lions have now lost three of their last five international matches and have not scored a goal in over 452 minutes of open play. Serious issues are starting to arise, and the team only has one match left to play before the World Cup.
Once again, Gareth Southgate opted for a back-five formation tonight, which seemed to stifle creativity in the attacking third. He eventually switched to four at the back once Jack Grealish and Luke Shaw were introduced in the 72nd minute shortly after Italy took the lead, and his side looked more threatening.
The England boss will now be scratching his head as the side face the prospect of going into a major tournament with no wins since March if they don’t get a result against Germany on Monday evening.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – RAFAEL TOLOI
The Atalanta captain had a great game in the heart of Italy’s central defence, and his performance was characterised by a lot of effective last ditch defending which stopped England from creating more chances.
In total, the 31-year-old won all seven of his tackles and also won two aerial duels.
Italy: Donnarumma 7, Toloi 7, Bonucci 7, Acerbi 6, Dimarco 7, Cristante 6, Jorginho 7, Barella 6, Di Lorenzo 7, Scamacca 6, Raspadori 7. Subs: Emerson 6, Gabbiadini 6, Gnonto 6, Pobega 6, Frattesi 6.
England: Pope 6, Walker 5, Dier 6, Maguire 6, Saka 6, Rice 6, Bellingham 6, James 7, Sterling 6, Foden 6, Kane 7. Subs: Shaw 6, Grealish 6.
5′ – OFF THE BAR – Dimarco gets past James down the left byline, and manages to dig out a whipped ball into the box, and Scamacca jumps highest to head it onto the bar! Pope just about does enough to get a finger to it to push it above him. Maguire then clears it for a corner.
41′ – CHANCE! – Chance for England! Toloi gives the ball away cheaply and England break quickly on the counter attack. Kane drives forward 20-yards with the ball, before deciding to shoot from distance from outside the box but it goes over the bar.
68′ – GOAL! (Giacomo Raspadori) – Italy make the breakthrough! Raspadori has his fourth international goal! The Napoli man cuts inside onto his right foot inside the box after taking down a long ball from defence, before whipping the ball right into the far corner. Great goal.
85′ – OFF THE POST – Italy almost double their advantage as Dimarco’s low cross from the left-side of the box comes back off the upright! Pope was beaten.
90+5′ – A BIG CHANCE TO EQUALISE – Big chance for England! James floats in a cross from the right byline, but Bellingham heads it just millimetres over the bar!