Rice shines as he bags crucial opener but Phillips still has rust to knock off
ENGLAND began their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with victory in a replay of the last final.
Declan Rice fired the Three Lions into an early lead in Naples.
And then Harry Kane made it 2-0 just before half-time with his record-breaking penalty to overtake Wayne Rooney’s all-time haul after VAR confirmed a handball.
But the reigning European champions battled and pulled one back through debutant Mateo Retegui.
Luke Shaw was sent off for two yellow cards inside just 54 seconds as the Azzurri pressed for an equaliser.
England, though, held on to secure an important and famous win.
Here’s how SunSport’s Dan King rated Gareth Southgate’s men…
Jordan Pickford – 7
A spectator for the first half, limited to some routine catches and clearances. Distribution was good, though, helping England to play further up the pitch.
Sharp save at start of second half and helpless for the goal as defence let him down. Made a couple of important punches.
Kyle Walker – 6
Limited Italian threat of first half came down his side. Didn’t look overly troubled but it did restrict his ability to get forward himself to match Shaw’s contribution on the other flank. Did enough to male Lorenzo Pellegrini snatch at a second-half chance.
John Stones – 6
Comfortable for first half, doing the basics well and rarely giving a tame Italian frontline much hope. Good block on Mateo Retegui in a rare moment of danger. More vulnerable in second half as England lost grip on game and began defending deeper.
Harry Maguire – 6
Solid and tidy at the back in the first half after hesistant start. Pinged some good long diagonals to give England variety to their build-up play. But caught out as Italy hit back through Retegui and booked for a foul in the build-up. Did his bit in backs to the wall last 10 minutes.
Luke Shaw – 6
England’s best defender until his slightly unfortunate sending off. Serbian referee was over-zealous with bookings for time-wasting but had no choice to produce a red after a foul.
Strong in defence and useful going forward in first half, forced back in second.
Kalvin Phillips – 6
Looked rusty in the opening stages, giving the ball away a couple of times, but gradually found his way into the game. Confidence grew enough for him to have a decent shot just wide as England took control. Unable to stem Italian tide in second half, but not alone in that.
Declan Rice – 9
Are you watching, Graeme Souness? In the right place at the right time all night. That was mostly his bread and butter of nicking the ball away at important moments, but also took the opening goal well. At times in second half, seemed to be only defensive player with composure.
Jude Bellingham – 7
Drove the Italians – especially Marco Verratti – mad in the first half when they simply couldn’t get the ball off him. Enjoyed No 10 role, forcing very good save out of Donnarumma that led to corner for first goal. Not nearly as effective in the second as the tide turned.
Bukayo Saka – 8
Another impressive performance from the young Arsenal star. So direct and strong in attack, so disciplined in his defensive work, filling in as a right back to allow Phillips to go hunting. His corners led to both first-half goals and he did his best to pose a threat in second half.
Harry Kane – 8
Tackle on edge of his own box was his first contribution but soon began linking play in better areas of pitch. Blocked shot led to Rice goal. Then a nerveless penalty delivered the moment of history. Did what he could to give team a second-half platform but it was thankless work.
Jack Grealish – 6
After wayward first pass, seemed to be taking his opportunity as he combined well with Shaw down the left. Kept ball well but lack of end product, especially when failed to finish fine move in first-half stoppage time. Faded in second half and deservedly taken off.
Phil Foden (for Grealish, 69 mins) – 5
Made little impact until he had to be sacrificed following the red card for Shaw.
Kieran Trippier (for Foden, 81 mins) – 6
England need experienced head as alarm bells rang, did enough on left.
Reece James (for Saka, 85 mins) – 6
Brought on to shore things up as Italy pushed for an equaliser
Conor Gallagher (for Bellingham, 85 mins) – 6
Helped England see out the game in a 5-3-1 formation
Source: The Sun
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