Southgate’s team are relegated after another grim Nations League effort

Southgate’s team are relegated after another grim Nations League effort

England suffered the ignominy of relegation from the UEFA Nations League top flight after another lackluster performance in Milan led to a 1-0 defeat to Italy.

It was a game of few precious qualities, hard to believe between two teams that played in the final of the European Championships just over 14 months ago.

The defeat leaves England with just two points in five games and means they will be in the second division for the next Nations League competition, whatever happens against Germany on Monday.

However, the most pressing concern will be how Gareth Southgate’s side looks so close to the World Cup. Their only goal in five Nations League games was a penalty; the only other team in the entire competition without a single penalty-free goal on his behalf is San Marino.

England are among the favorites for the triumph in Qatar having reached the semi-finals four years ago and the final of Euro 2020, but this year things went badly.

England failed to win any of the four games in June and produced a mild response to theirs 4-0 Molineux torn to pieces against Hungary with Giacomo Raspadori who seals the victory of Italy, also in bad shape and unable to qualify for the World Cup.

England player ratings as Southgate men meekly succumb to Nations League relegation

The Euro 2020 finalists had played an unforgettable closed-goal draw behind closed doors in June and the first half in Milan somehow managed to be even sadder as England struggled against the Azzurri, struck by absentees.

It did not go better from the point of view of the guests because Italy kept them at bay and secured the victory thanks to a good attempt by Raspadori.

The Southgate team lacked the ruthlessness required on the eve of a San Siro match that ends with more questions than answers, with Monday’s home game against Germany before the World Cup.

Bukayo Saka, named England’s Men’s Player of the Year earlier in the day, was deployed as a left-back at San Siro, where Eric Dier won his first appearance since November 2020 amid six alterations of Hungarian humiliation.

Harry Maguire was another lead and the unfavorable name of the Manchester United captain was chanted by 4,415 traveling fans in a supportive expression that followed Southgate’s public support on Thursday.

The 29-year-old settled down after a shaky start when Italy started on the attack foot, with Gianluca Scamacca beating him all too easily on a deep Federico Dimarco cross from the right.

A combination of Nick Pope, replacing the injured Jordan Pickford, and Wood denied the West Ham striker’s powerful header on his near post before the striker hit wide from range.

England quelled that storm and started enjoying bouts of ball possession, albeit without injecting creativity and excitement into their game.

Busy with the ball, there was little to notice in the way of possibilities other than Jude Bellingham’s shot to the ground and Harry Kane’s lash from distance.

England'S Harry Kane Fights For The Ball With Italy'S Jorginho During A Uefa Nations League Clash

Fortunately, there was no additional time at the end of a miserable first half.

Dier made a major block and Reece James sadly failed on a well-placed free-kick after Leonardo Bonucci tripped Raheem Sterling on the edge of the area.

Phil Foden threw his hands in the air in frustration as Kane shot from a sharp angle when he was free at the far post as he continued the disjointed spectacle of the visitors.

England were fortunate that a mixture of offside flag and Nicolò Barella’s poor finish prevented them from falling behind in the 57th minute after Dimarco was freed to send a precise cross to the far post.

The game had now become erratic and stretched, swinging from end to end without much quality. Rafael Toloi prevented Saka from reaching Kane’s cross before substitute Wilfried Gnonto’s ferocious thrust forced a nice block.

The stalemate was finally unlocked in the 68th minute with the Azzurri’s goal.

Bonucci’s long pass puts Raspadori behind Kyle Walker, with the striker keeping his cool before sending a nice shot past Pope from just inside the box.

Kane forced Gianluigi Donnarumma to a double save as England sought a draw, with former Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini seeing a shot saved by Pope on the other side before Dimarco’s cross-shot hit a post.

Declan Rice saw a confident recovery effort saved and Bellingham headed for Italy which saw victory, leaving the traveling hordes audibly frustrated full time.


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