England manager Gareth Southgate lauded Harry Kane’s strength of character after he broke England’s all-time goal record with his 54th international goal in the Euro 2024 qualifier win over Italy. Kane’s successful penalty kick made him the leading scorer for the English national team, surpassing Wayne Rooney’s previous record of 53 goals.
Southgate was thrilled for Kane, who had missed a penalty in England’s quarter-final defeat by France at the World Cup in December. He said Kane’s achievement was “an incredible achievement,” given how quickly he had broken the record and still had much of his career ahead of him. Southgate added that the players gave Kane a brilliant reception afterward, a response to his record-breaking feat and what he had to recover from.
Kane’s goal came towards the end of a strong first-half performance, which could have put the game to bed had Jack Grealish not missed a clear chance from close range set up by the Tottenham striker. England eventually held on to a 2-1 win despite Italy pulling a goal back through debutant Mateo Retegui and Luke Shaw being sent off in the 80th minute following two quick-fire yellow cards.
Southgate admitted that England had to show two sides in the game, saying they had “great control from the back in the first half… frankly, we should have had the game buried, it should have been 3-0 at half-time.” Italy coach Roberto Mancini was disappointed by his team’s first-half performance but was encouraged by the second-half showing, where they “pressed and didn’t let them breathe.” Nonetheless, Mancini regretted his team’s two goals conceded, which could have been avoided.
England’s victory puts them in a strong position in Group C, and they will face Ukraine on Sunday to consolidate their position.