Raspadori gives Italy 1-0 win to relegate stodgy England


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MILAN, September 23 (Reuters) – England’s woeful run in the Nations League continued on Friday as Giacomo Raspadori’s 68th-minute strike gave Italy a deserved 1-0 win that relegated the gun-shy guests to the second division B and the Italians in the league kept chasing after top group 3.

With just two months to go before Qatar, there was precious little optimism for England’s fans, but at least, unlike Italy, they will still be trying to come to terms with not being able to qualify for their second consecutive World Cup, the European Championship.

In a game with few chances at the San Siro, the hosts looked more ambitious and Raspadori’s crisp finish decided the game.

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England barely managed to score and looked unrecognizable from a side who went 22 games unbeaten through June – not counting their Euro 2020 penalty shoot-out loss to Italy.

They have scored just one goal, a penalty, in their five Nations League games ahead of their last home game against Germany on Monday.

Italy still have a chance to top the group and reach the play-offs but they must beat Hungary in Budapest on Monday after the surprise leaders won 1-0 in Germany.

After Italy started with a five-minute attacking frenzy highlighted by Gianluca Scamacca’s header that was shoved against a post by Pope, the first half developed into cautious probes at either end, with neither goalkeeper challenged further.

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The risk-averse approach was perhaps understandable considering England were beaten 4-0 at home by Hungary in their last games in June, while Italy lost 5-2 to Germany, but that was no consolation to the bored 50k-plus Viewers .

Italy improved after the break and decided the game when Raspadori brought a long ball from Leonardo Bonucci cleanly down the edge of the area and, having given far too much time to consider his options, sliced ​​his right foot and fired past Pope.

Manolo Gabbiadini, earning his first international cap in five years, forced Pope to make a good save while the impressive Federico Dimarco hit the post as Italy finished strongly.

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England were unable to manage more than a few Harry Kane snaps and manager Gareth Southgate was booed by the fans in attendance as he applauded them.

Midfielder Declan Rice said the side “slipped below their standards” but claimed they controlled the game.

“I didn’t think everything was bad tonight,” he said. “It’s coming. It was a much better performance than in the summer. It’s not that we don’t create chances. I see it in training. There are goals for fun. Believe me, we’ll be good.”

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Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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