Giacomo Raspadori

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Giacomo Raspadori led Italy to a 1-0 win over England on Friday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the final four of the Nations League.

Napoli striker Raspadori capped an otherwise uninspiring encounter with a superb second-half strike at the San Siro to keep the European champions two points behind Ligue A Group 3 leaders Hungary.

Roberto Mancini’s side face Hungary in Budapest on Monday and will progress to the last four with a win, which would be a small boost for the Azzurri after they missed out on a second consecutive World Cup.

England will be in Qatar in November, but defeat in Milan sent Gareth Southgate’s side to League B after another draw in which they created next to nothing.

They haven’t won a game in this season’s Nations League and are four points behind third-placed Germany after defeat to Hungary and will play England at Wembley in high-scoring matches, while Italy will try to reach the final stage.

“We showed a good game against a strong team, we were attacking, created chances and controlled the match, bringing the victory. We needed this kind of victory against a better opponent,” Raspadori told Italian broadcaster Rai.

“We want to get back to the team we were before and get Italy back where we belong.”

Euro 2020 triumph seems almost a lifetime away for Italy, who have been suffering a crisis of results and confidence since bringing the trophy home to jubilant crowds last July.

Mancini has sought to overhaul his squad following the humiliation of failing to qualify for this winter’s World Cup, but his squad selection has been hampered by a string of injuries to key players ahead of the match, forcing him to switch to a back three.

Ciro Immobile was the fifth player to be injured ahead of Friday’s match and his replacement Gianluca Scamocca was unlucky not to give Italy the lead in the fifth minute when his close-range header was saved by Nick Pope.

Italy were in front for the first quarter of an hour, but England slowly began to pick up the football after being surprised by the hosts’ quick start.

England knew defeat would lead to relegation, but despite their dominance on the ball, they continued to struggle to create chances, with Harry Kane besting their highlight reel in an uneventful first half.

There was little to recommend the spectacle put on by both sides after the break, apart from Raspadora’s 68th-minute winner, the only real touch of class in the game.

The 22-year-old brilliantly cleared Leonardo Banucci’s long cross and easily rounded Kyle Walker before curling a beautiful shot from the edge of the area.

The introduction of Jack Grealish for Bukayo Sakho did little to improve England’s creativity, but Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a pair of smart saves in succession to deny Harry Kane with 13 minutes remaining.

And it was Italy who should have doubled their lead in the closing stages when Manolo Gabbiadini played Pope one-on-one before Federico Dimarco saw his shot go off the post.

England continued to press for an equaliser, but Italy’s solid defense ensured that the home side hung on and gave themselves a chance to play against Hungary.

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