Harry Kane’s penalty goal in the recent match against Italy not only secured a victory for England, but it also made him the country’s all-time top scorer. This was a significant moment for Kane, who had missed a crucial penalty in the World Cup, costing England a chance to dethrone champions France. Additionally, Italy had denied England glory in the Euros final of 2021. However, on this historic night, Kane’s penalty overhauled Wayne Rooney’s all-time scoring record as ten-man England defeated Italy on their own soil for the first time in 62 years.
Despite his ordeal in Qatar, Kane held his nerve and scored from the spot just before the break to put England 2-0 up. This was a vintage performance from Kane, who led from the front and weathered a physical buffering from Italy’s central defenders. There were also outstanding contributions from Declan Rice, who scored the opener, Jude Bellingham, who bossed the midfield, and Buyako Saka, who was absolutely full of it.
The first-half display was certainly England’s best since the 3-2 victory over Spain in Seville in 2018. And while they had to dig deep to preserve their lead after half-time, especially after Luke Shaw’s red card, this was a statement victory for Gareth Southgate’s team. In the Diego Maradona Stadium, in a city which is a giant shrine to English football’s great Argentinian nemesis, England ultimately won it through a handball – Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s offence allowing Kane his momentous spot-kick.
Southgate made two changes from the side beaten by France in the World Cup quarter-final – Jack Grealish replacing his Manchester City team-mate Phil Foden and the lesser-spotted Kalvin Phillips in for Jordan Henderson. England were soon strutting their stuff with high tempo pass and move, and they deserved their 13th-minute lead. Saka had won two challenges he had no right to win and forced the first save of the night from Gianluigi Donnarumma. It was a gorgeous move over the full length of the pitch to force the corner which brought the opener. Grealish fed Bellingham, who let rip with a fierce rising shot which Donnarumma tipped over. But when Saka swung over the corner, Kane’s shot was blocked by Leonardo Spinazzola, and Rice lashed home left-footed.
England were positive, aggressive, expansive, and fluent, with Rice so influential at the base of midfield. His booking for time-wasting was one of the most ridiculous yellow cards you will ever see. England were in a hurry to inflict more damage on the Italians. Kalvin Phillips pinged a shot just wide from the edge of the area, and shortly before half-time, Kane’s moment arrived. Again it came from a Saka corner, Di Lorenzo handling under pressure from Kane.
After the break, though, a chastened Italy looked like an entirely different team, and within 11 minutes, they had reduced the deficit. Harry Maguire stepped out of defence, lunged at Nicolo Barella, who fed Marco Verratti, then Lorenzo Pellegrini found Nicolo Retegui who thumped past Pickford. Suddenly Italy were right on the front foot, and it was often Rice who was snuffing out danger.
However, their resistance was shaken by Shaw receiving two yellow cards in the space of 54 seconds – the first for time-wasting, the second for a foul. Kieran Trippier arrived in place of Foden, who had only recently replaced Grealish. Soon it was a 5-3-1 as Reece James and Conor Gallagher arrived for Saka and Bellingham. And England held out, after a game of two wildly contrasting halves, for one of their best results of this century.
In conclusion, Harry Kane’s penalty goal against Italy not only secured a victory for England but also made him the country’s all-time top scorer. It was a significant moment for Kane, who had missed a crucial penalty in the World Cup and had been denied glory in the Euros final of 2021. However, on this historic night, Kane led from the front and held his nerve to score the winning goal. Along with outstanding contributions from Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, and Buyako Saka, England delivered one of their best performances of this century.