Raspadori strike keeps Italy’s Nations League hopes alive and send England down

Italy beat England by a narrow 1-0 margin in the UEFA Nations League Group C match on Saturday courtesy of an exquisite goal by Giacomo Raspadori in the 68th minute.

Raspadori celebrates with teammates after scoring.

Raspadori celebrates with teammates after scoring. | Photo Credit: REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

Italy beat England by a narrow 1-0 margin in the UEFA Nations League Group C match on Saturday courtesy of an exquisite goal by Giacomo Raspadori in the 68th minute.

Giacomo Raspadori fired Italy to a 1-0 win over England on Friday which kept alive its hopes of making the Nations League final four.

Napoli striker Raspadori decided an otherwise uninspiring encounter with a superb second-half strike at the San Siro to keep the European champions two points behind League A, Group 3 leader Hungary.

Roberto Mancini's side faces Hungary in Budapest on Monday and will make the final four with a win, which would be a small boost for the Azzurri after missing out on their second straight World Cup.

England will be in Qatar in November but defeat in Milan sent Gareth Southgate's side down to League B after another flat display in which they barely created anything.

It is four points behind Germany, which sits third after losing to Hungary and will play a dead rubber with England at Wembley while Italy tries to make the final stages.

AS IT HAPPENED: Highlights Italy 1-0 England Nations League

Triumph at Euro 2020 seems almost a lifetime ago for Italy, which has been going through a crisis of results and confidence since it brought the trophy home to joyous crowds in July last year.

Mancini has been trying to rethink his team after the humiliation of not qualifying for this winter's World Cup, but his squad selection was hampered by a host of injuries to key players in the lead-up to the match which forced him to switch to a back three.

Ciro Immobile was the fifth player to pull out injured in the run-up to Friday's match and his replacement Gianluca Scamacca was unlucky not to give Italy a fifth-minute lead when his close-range header was tipped off the bar by Nick Pope.

Italy was on the front foot for the opening quarter of an hour but England slowly began to gain a football after being surprised by the hosts' fast start.

England knew that a defeat would send it down but despite dominating the ball its difficulties creating chances continued, with Harry Kane blasting over from distance their highlight from an uneventful first half.

There was little to recommend about the spectacle served up by both sides after the break apart from Raspadori's 68th-minute winner, the game's first true touch of class.

The 22-year-old brilliantly brought down Leonardo Bonucci's long pass and easily skipped around Kyle Walker before whipping home a beautiful shot from the edge of the area.

The introduction of Jack Grealish for Bukayo Saka did little to improve England's creativity but Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a pair of smart saves in quick succession to deny Harry Kane with 13 minutes remaining.

And it was Italy which should have doubled its lead in the closing stages when Manolo Gabbiadini fluffed a one-on-one with Pope before Federico Dimarco saw his shot clip out off the post.

England kept pressing for a leveller but solid Italy defending made sure that the host held out and gave itself something to play against Hungary.

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