England’s nightmare build-up to 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, having also failed to score from open play in any of those matches.
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“It’s really difficult to pinpoint 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 that’s the results we’ve had in this competition and yeah it’s an understandable emotional reaction.”
Giacomo Raspadori fired Italy to the 1-0 win which kept alive their 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 leaders Hungary.
Roberto Mancini’s side face 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.
Southgate insisted he was not dispirited 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 his disposal.
“It’s difficult for me to be too difficult of the performance, we had more possession, more shots, more shots on target, I think for large parts of the game we played very well,” said Southgate.
“We didn’t deal with the decisive moment defensively and we had moments where we had the chance to be more decisive in their final third where our quality just wasn’t quite right,” he added.
“Of course results are going to be the thing everyone reacts to but I thought there were a lot of positives for us a team … But I completely understand because of the result that is not going to be the reaction externally.”
“We put in a good performance against a strong team, we were attack-minded, created chances and controlled the match while bringing home the win. We needed this kind of victory against a top opponent,” said Raspadori to Italian broadcaster Rai.
“We want to return to being the team we were before and put Italy back where we belong.”
Triumph at Euro 2020 seems almost a lifetime ago for Italy, who have been going through a crisis of results and confidence since they 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 to him to switch to a back three.
HUNGARY STUN GERMANY
A superb first-half stiletto kick 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 on top of the group standings, with the unbeaten side only needing a draw in their final match away against Italy to secure top spot.
Playing his second-last game before retiring from international football, striker Szalai gave Hungary the lead after 17 minutes.
Szalai, who plies his trade at Swiss side Basel after a career which took him to five different Bundesliga sides, won Hungary a corner, forcing an intervention from Real Madrid centre-back Antonio Ruediger.
Leipzig midfielder boomeranged the corner goalwards, before Szalai skilfully clipped the ball into the net with his heel.
The loss was Germany’s first under former Bayern manager Hansi Flick, who had won nine and drawn four of his previous 13 games in charge.
Flick said “it is better to be angry now than at the World Cup” as he promised his side will learn from their 1-0 home defeat to Hungary.
“I am absolutely disappointed because as a footballer you hate to lose,” Flick said.
Flick said the first-half performance was the worst of his 14 games in charge, but took some responsibility himself.
“I opted for a line-up that just didn’t work so well,” he said. “The way we approached the game, we can do much better.
“The time for experimentation is over.”
NEYMAR DAZZLES AS BRAZIL MAKE STATEMENT
Richarlison struck twice as Brazil showcased their World Cup credentials by putting on an attacking masterclass in a 3-0 victory over Ghana in Friday’s friendly in Le Havre.
Marquinhos headed Brazil in front from a corner and Richarlison doubled the lead before the half-hour. The Tottenham Hotspur striker nodded in a third on 40 minutes.
Unbeaten throughout World Cup qualifying, Brazil’s only competitive loss since going out to Belgium in the 2018 quarter-finals in Russia came against Argentina in last year’s Copa America final.
Brazil coach Tite fielded a strong, attack-minded side that could well start their opening game of the World Cup against Serbia in Lusail on November 24.
Ghana lost Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey to injury in the warm-up, on what was a challenging night for the Black Stars.
Five-time world champions Brazil hit their stride right away, Neymar unhindered by the small cut during Wednesday’s training session that required minor treatment.
Brazil were soon in front though as Marquinhos powered in from Raphinha’s inswinging corner in the ninth minute.
Neymar created Brazil’s second goal, allowing Thiago Silva’s pass to run beyond him before rolling it towards Richarlison, who swept a first-time shot low into the corner of Joseph Wollacott’s goal.
The PSG star was again the provider as Brazil increased their advantage, whipping in a free-kick that Richarlison glanced home at the near post.
Brazil take on Tunisia in their final pre-World Cup tune-up at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday, while Ghana head to Spain to face Nicaragua.
MESSI AT THE DOUBLE
Lionel Messi’s expertly taken double helped seal a comprehensive 3-0 win for Argentina over Honduras in Miami on Friday to extend their impressive unbeaten run ahead of the Qatar World Cup.
The Argentina captain scored a goal in each half, his opener doubling the lead given to Lionel Scaloni’s team by Lautaro Martinez early on.
Argentina haven’t lost in 34 matches heading into Tuesday’s game against Jamaica in New York.
With their last defeat coming in the 2019 Copa America semi-final, the thousands of Argentina fans who packed Hard Rock Stadium in a crowd of 64,420 were in an expectant mood and left delighted as a combative Honduran side were firmly put to the sword.
“The game was what we expected,” Argentina coach Scaloni said. “I am satisfied with that.
“As far as players who didn’t play, as a coach I have to manage minutes and rest some players. Most important thing is that whoever plays proves they can belong and can play.”
Even with the world Cup looming, Scaloni said it was key that his players enjoy themselves.
“The Argentine national team whenever we play, it’s a huge responsibility, but we need to enjoy it, the fans need to enjoy it,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game. The important thing is to play the way we want to play and for people to enjoy it. That is more important than the result.”
Elsewhere, Cyle Larin and Jonathan David were on target as Canada beat World Cup hosts Qatar 2-0 in Vienna.
Mehdi Taremi got the only goal as Iran beat Uruguay 1-0 while Saudi Arabia drew 0-0 with Ecuador.
Sofiane Boufal’s penalty and a debut goal from Abdelhamid Sabiri gave new Morocco coach Walid Regragui a 2-0 win over Chile.