Southgate lauds 'extraordinary' England record-breaker Kane

By Sports Desk March 23, 2023

Gareth Southgate felt the "extraordinary" Harry Kane showed his "mental strength" by scoring a record-breaking goal in England's 2-1 Euro 2024 qualifying win against Italy.

The Three Lions gained a measure of revenge for their loss to the Azzurri in the final of the last European Championship at Wembley with a victory in their Group C opener at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Declan Rice opened the scoring and Kane become England's outright leading goalscorer with a penalty at the end of the first half in Naples on Thursday.

A debut goal for the Argentina-born Mateo Retegui in the second half and Luke Shaw's late red card could not prevent England from securing a first away win over Italy since May 1961.

It was a special night for Kane, who broke a record he shared with Wayne Rooney by scoring his 54th goal for England.

A commanding first-half display enabled Southgate to become the third England manager to celebrate 50 victories in charge of the national team after Alf Ramsey (69) and Walter Winterbottom (78).

Southgate hailed his captain, who stepped up to make history in the Three Lions' first game since he crucially missed a spot-kick in a World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in December.

He said: "Kane was extraordinary. Breaking the record in these conditions demonstrates all the mental strength he has.

"It's truly an exceptional achievement; the players cheered for him and this is a reaction both to the record and what he had to go through in Qatar."

England were a cut above Italy in the first half, but it was a different story after the break and Southgate felt they made life difficult for themselves following such an impressive start.

"We had an exceptional first half, while it was a very tough second half," he said. "We showed two different faces; we controlled the game very well in the first half as soon as we escaped the first line of pressing and at the interval it might have been 3-0.

"At the beginning of the second half we made some wrong decisions and the momentum changed."

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