England’s nightmarish preparation for the World Cup has continued with another defeat, this time to Italy, as the Three Lions were booed off the pitch following the 1-0 loss.
The result saw them relegated from League A of the Nations League for the first time. The team has gone five straight games without a win for the first time in eight years, and also failed to score in open play in any of those games.
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“It’s really hard to pin down why we’re not scoring because I think we’re getting into the right areas,” England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters.
“We had the moments that we had in the past, we just didn’t deliver the final piece of quality tonight.
“I understand the reaction at the end because those are the results we’ve had in this competition and yes, it’s an understandable emotional reaction.”
Giacomo Raspadori led Italy to a 1-0 win that kept their hopes of reaching the Nations League quarter-finalists alive.
Napoli striker Raspadori settled an uninspiring encounter with a superb second-half strike at the San Siro to keep the European champions two points clear of League A Group 3 leaders Hungary.
Roberto Mancini’s side take on Hungary in Budapest on Monday and will reach the quarter-finals with a win, which would be a small boost for the Azzurri after missing their second consecutive World Cup.
England will be in Qatar in November, but the defeat in Milan sent Gareth Southgate’s men back to League B after another flat performance in which they hardly created anything.
Southgate insisted he was not put off by a display in which England not only failed to score but struggled to create chances despite having talented attacking players like Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling at their disposal.
“It’s hard for me to be too difficult with the performance, we had more possession, more shots, more shots on goal, I think for a lot of the game we played very well,” Southgate said.
“We didn’t deal with the decisive moment defensively and we had moments where we had the chance to be more decisive in his final third where our quality just wasn’t right,” he added.
“Of course the results will be what everyone will react to, but I thought there were a lot of positives for us as a team… But I fully understand because of the result, that’s not going to be the external reaction.”
“We had a good performance against a strong team, we were offensive, we created chances and we controlled the match while bringing home the victory. We needed this kind of victory against a great opponent,” Raspadori told Italian broadcaster Rai.
“We want to go back to being the team we were before and put Italy back where we belong.”
Triumph at Euro 2020 seems to have been almost a lifetime for Italy, which has been through a crisis of results and confidence since bringing home the trophy to jubilant crowds in July last year.
Mancini has been trying to rethink his team after the humiliation of failing to qualify for this winter’s World Cup, but his team selection was hampered by a series of injuries to key players in the run-up to the match that forced him to switch to the side. Three.
HUNGARY STUNNS GERMANY
A superb first-half stiletto strike from striker Adam Szalai gave Hungary a 1-0 away win over Germany at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena on Friday.
The win cemented Hungary’s position at the top of the group standings, as the undefeated side only needed a draw in their last game against Italy to secure top spot.
Playing his penultimate match before retiring from international football, striker Szalai gave Hungary the lead after 17 minutes.
Szalai, who plays for Swiss side Basel after a career that took him to five different Bundesliga teams, won a corner for Hungary, forcing an intervention from Real Madrid centre-back Antonio Ruediger.
The Leipzig midfielder boomeranged around the corner towards goal, before Szalai deftly spiked the ball into the net with his heel.
The loss was the first for Germany under former Bayern manager Hansi Flick, who had won nine and drawn four of his previous 13 games in charge.
NEYMAR DAZZLES WHEN BRAZIL MAKES STATEMENT
Richarlison scored twice as Brazil showed their World Cup credentials by giving an attacking masterclass in a 3-0 win over Ghana in Friday’s friendly in Le Havre.
Marquinhos headed Brazil in front from a corner and Richarlison doubled the lead before half an hour. The Tottenham Hotspur striker headed in a third after 40 minutes.
Undefeated during World Cup qualifying, Brazil’s only competitive loss since being eliminated by Belgium in the 2018 quarterfinals in Russia came against Argentina in last year’s Copa América final.
Brazil coach Tite presented a strong and attack-minded team that could well start their World Cup opener against Serbia in Lusail on November 24.
Ghana lost Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey to injury in the warm-up, in what was a challenging night for the Black Stars.
Five-time world champions Brazil sped up immediately, Neymar unhindered by the small cut during Wednesday’s training session which required minor treatment.
However, Brazil were soon in front when Marquinhos finished off a Raphinha corner kick in the ninth minute.
Neymar created Brazil’s second goal, allowing Thiago Silva’s pass to run past him before rolling it to Richarlison, who deflected a first low shot into the corner of Joseph Wollacott’s goal.
The PSG star was once again the provider as Brazil increased their lead, lashing a free-kick that Richarlison struck at the near post.
Brazil will face Tunisia in their final pre-World Cup tune-up at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday, while Ghana travel to Spain to take on Nicaragua.
Elsewhere, Cyle Larin and Jonathan David got it right in Canada’s 2-0 win over World Cup hosts Qatar in Vienna.
Mehdi Taremi scored the only goal as Iran beat Uruguay 1-0 while Saudi Arabia drew 0-0 with Ecuador.
A penalty from Sofiane Boufal and a debut goal from Abdelhamid Sabiri gave new Morocco coach Walid Regragui a 2-0 victory over Chile.