Padraig Whelan·23 March 2023
Padraig Whelan·23 March 2023
England have a new record goalscorer, Italy have a new goalscorer and the Three Lions gained some sweet revenge on Thursday night.
This is what we made of a dramatic night in Napoli.
Forget Prince Harry. He’s now King Kane.
England’s win over Italy will always be remembered as the night he made history by becoming the country’s outright top goalscorer, overtaking Wayne Rooney to move onto 54 goals with a perfectly-taken penalty to send Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way.
Doing so from the spot seemed only fitting given the heartbreak he suffered from 12 yards during his country’s World Cup exit as he carved out more history – hot on the heels of becoming Tottenham’s record scorer earlier this year.
For England, he now has the most goals, achieving that tally in a very impressive 81 caps (Rooney’s record was made across 120) and plenty more records too.
Kane also has the most goals as a captain (46), most from penalties (18), most in a calendar year (16 in 2021) and most in major tournaments (12), per Opta.
And he’s far from done yet.
Winning in Italy isn’t something that comes easy for England, who last did so in a 1961 friendly when another Spurs legend got among the goals as Jimmy Greaves netted in a 3-2 win in Rome.
They had lost four of their last six since then and scored just once during that time and although Italy’s record in Napoli has been iffy (two wins from their previous eight), their European Championship qualifying record suggested they would come out on top here again.
Prior to this, they won their last 14 such straight games, hadn’t lost any since being beaten in France when they gained a small measure of World Cup final revenge in autumn 2006 and hadn’t been beaten at home in a Euro qualifier since 1999 against Denmark.
That makes this an impressive scalp for England to take and although Italy were poor for large spells, Gareth Southgate’s side should be credited for making the most of their chances while on top in the first half.
Their second half showing will leave him with much to ponder though and Luke Shaw’s red card is a headache but he has far less issues to resolve than his opposite number.
There is only one real positive for the Azzurri to take and that is the second half goal from Mateo Retegui.
The 23-year-old had never played a football game outside his native Argentina before being called up by Roberto Mancini due to qualifying through his grandparents – a sign of how dire their striker situation is and how wide they were willing to cast the net to solve it.
Having never came close to an Albiceleste squad, Retegui happily accepted the call and on his debut, it seemed like destiny that an Argentine would find the net at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona – a place that can feel more South American than Italian at times (just see the 1990 World Cup semi-final as an example).
Italy have a proud tradition of oriundi (foreign-born players who represent them) and Retegui looks to be the latest in that line, the Argentina Primera División’s most prolific player may prove be one that got away for his homeland, taking his goal in this one very well.
He became the first Italian to score on his debut since Riccardo Orsolini four-and-a-half years ago and is also the only player to find the net for them while playing his club football outside of Europe.
That is unlikely to stay the case for long, with several Serie A clubs already understandably being linked with a swift move for his services.