October 18 – With two games to spare, England qualified for a major tournament for the eighth successive time as they reached Euro 24 after defeating Italy 3-1 at Wembley on Tuesday, avenging their heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat at the same venue in the delayed 2020 final.
It was England’s first win at home against the Italians since 1977 and secured a qualification double following their win away earlier in the campaign.
England and Hungary were the only teams with the opportunity on Tuesday to secure their places at the finals in Germany next June with Gareth Southgate’s side coming from behind to make sure of top spot in Group C, three points ahead of Ukraine, who won 3-1 at Malta, and six above Italy.
Defeat for Italy, who led through Gianluca Scamacca before England took control with two goals from their all-time record scorer Harry Kane – the first a penalty – and one from Marcus Rashford, leaves the visitors in a precarious third place.
“It has been a tough journey and to qualify with two games to go is credit to everyone involved,” said Kane.
The Italians travelled to England minus top midfielders Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Zaniolo who left the camp last week after being questioned by police over alleged involvement in an illegal betting ring.
They could now face the prospect of playoffs and even failure to qualify for a second straight major tournament. The Azzurri lost a playoff to North Macedonia last year and didn’t qualify for the World Cup, just a year after winning the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020. They also missed out on the 2018 World Cup after losing a playoff to Sweden.
Italy play North Macedonia and Ukraine in their final qualifying matches next month.
Hungary would have qualified had they won in Lithuania, who they had beaten five times in six previous meetings, but went two goals down in Kaunas before fighting back to draw 2-2.
Hungary now lead their group by one point after second-placed Serbia beat neighbours Montenegro 3-1 in Belgrade on the back of a double from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Denmark and Slovenia were both away winners in Group H to move to the brink of qualification. The Danes had a scare in San Marino where the tiny republic scored their first goal of the campaign but the visitors still won 2-1, while Slovenia were 1-0 victors over Northern Ireland in Belfast.
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