England lost 1-0 to Italy in their penultimate Uefa Nations League group stage game on Friday night.
A raking long ball from Leonardo Bonucci left Raspodori in the England box up against Kyle Walker, who dropped off and gave the Napoli striker enough space to curl a 68th-minute opener past Nick Pope.
The result relegates England to League B of the Nations League. It also means they have scored just one goal in their last five games. Or zero from open play, as Harry Kane’s 88th-minute equaliser against Germany came from a penalty. In fact, as spotted by Opta, only they and San Marino have failed to score from open play during the current edition of the Nations League.
- Goalscorers: Giacomo Rasperdori (68′)
- Italy XI: Donnarumma; Bonucci, Acerbi, Toloi; Di Lorenzo, Barella, Jorginho, Cristante, Dimarco; Raspadori, Scamacca
- England XI: Pope; Walker (Shaw), Dier, Maguire; James, Rice, Bellingham, Saka (Grealish); Sterling, Kane, Foden
- Key stat: England have gone five games without a win for the first time under Gareth Southgate (and since 2014).
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Both Euro 2020 finalists had failed to maintain momentum since making last year’s Wembley showpiece. European champions Italy failed to qualify for the upcoming World Cup and fans’ anger at this outcome was reflected in tonight’s turnout, with empty seats visible at the San Siro.
England, meanwhile, came into the match winless in their last four games, including a 4-0 defeat to Hungary. As Gareth Southgate went over to applaud the travelling fans tonight, boos could be heard in the stands.
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Italy are in the thick of an injury crisis up front, hence the starts for former Sassuolo pair Gianluca Scamacca and Raspadori, and Roberto Mancini switched to a 3-5-2 to counter Southgate’s back-three formation.
Declan Rice expressed his ambition to create a “special bond” with Jude Bellingham to last ten years but the Italy coach’s tinkering left them outmanned in central midfield and unable to control what was a choppy first half. They and the England side as a whole grew into the game after the interval but ultimately the bigger second-half chances fell to Italy.
The duo is one of the most exciting young midfield partnerships in international football, though, and any time spent playing together ahead of Qatar 2022 can only be a positive for Southgate. Bellingham, for his part, was one of England’s better players and made his 11th England appearance. Only Wayne Rooney has earned more caps for the Three Lions’ Men’s team before turning 20. He has till June 29th next year to play seven more games at senior international level and set a new record.
“Jude Bellingham, a 19-year-old, was our best player tonight,” said Joe Cole on punditry duty for Channel 4.
“It’s all a bit safe. There’s no personality from this team,” added Eni Aluko.
The Internet reacts to latest England disappointment
I think Gareth Southgate’s tactical master plan of not giving us any hope in order not to kill us is working beautifully thus far.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) September 23, 2022
England lose 1-0 and are relegated. They now have not scored from open play for 450 minutes – worst run in 22 years
— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) September 23, 2022
Hire Tuchel and pay him what he wants now
— Elite (@EliteTier1) September 23, 2022
0 – England are one of only two nations yet to score a single non-penalty goal in the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League. The other nation is San Marino. Gulp. pic.twitter.com/UqYk9u66eM
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 23, 2022
What next for Uefa Nations League Group A3?
- Hungary (10pts)
- Italy (8pts)
- Germany (6pts)
- England (2pts)
The next round of games will conclude the 2022/24 Nations League group stage, with England hosting Germany and Italy travelling to face Hungary next Monday.
England being relegated, Monday night’s match with Germany at Wembley is a dead rubber in the context of the Uefa Nations League. But more importantly, it is their final chance to gain confidence on the pitch before the 2022 World Cup.
Meanwhile, group-leaders Hungary need only avoid defeat at home to Italy and they will be heading to the Nations League finals next summer.