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Player ratings as lifeless Three Lions slump to Nations League defeat

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Giacomo Raspadori’s goal was enough to see Italy beat England 1-0, confirming the visitors’ relegation to group B of the Nations League on Friday night.

A dull first half saw both teams struggle to truly take a hold of the game, with an obvious lack of quality in possession hampering both sides.

England failed to pick up after the break despite a few bright moments from individuals when the game stretched. Roberto Mancini’s side looked refreshed after making substitutions and drew ahead after 68 minutes, piling the pressure on the visitors to respond and stealing the win on an otherwise dull evening of football.

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Italy initially got the upper hand by pressing high and catching England on the ball early on, but the first quarter of the game was a nervy affair. Neither side was able to sustain possession or build any genuine threat, with possession turning over quickly but no clear cut chances emerging.

Phil Foden looked brightest for England when dropping deep for the ball and creating space for a midfielder to run in behind. While he wasn’t always found, his movement caused problems for the hosts and gave both Reece James and Jude Bellingham the space to move forward into.

Wide areas were where Italy could hurt England. Federico Dimarco always found the room for a deep cross to the back post, while Bukayo Saka looked uncomfortable at left wing-back throughout the majority of the first half, whenever the hosts attacked down his flank.

But while each side found an avenue to get forward on occasion, the game lacked any real quality and both goalkeepers remained largely untested, as the game trundled into half-time at 0-0.

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The game stretched somewhat after the break and England had rare moments of joy when the likes of Bellingham, Foden and Raheem Sterling had the space to run past defenders on the counter attack. A combination of lacking quality and lacking numbers in attacking support rendered their efforts useless, though.

Dimarco found a way beyond England’s back line just before the hour mark and squared the ball to Nicolo Barella who, on the stretch, sliced the ball wide. The play was flagged for offside after, but it was a let-off for Gareth Southgate’s side.

England seemed to lose their tempo beyond the hour mark and substitutes added another layer of quality for Italy, who took the lead after 68 minutes. Giacomo Raspadori plucked a long ball out of the air and, in a matter of a few touches, found space to wrap a low shot beyond Nick Pope for 1-0.

Truthfully, despite a few promising individual performances, England never looked like scoring an equaliser and a change of system late on just opened up more chances for the hosts, who eased to victory in Milan.

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Giacomo Raspadori

Raspadori was the difference / Giuseppe Cottini/GettyImages

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Yep, he was there. That’s about it.

CB: Rafael Toloi – 5/10 – Asserted himself physically on both Kane and Sterling. Wasn’t tested all that much, though.

CB: Leonardo Bonucci – 7/10 – Showed his age whenever England tried to counter attack, but also showed his class with some shrewd blocks as the game grew on. Classy outing.

CB: Francesco Acerbi – 6/10 – Had a cross nabbed off him early on in the second half that would’ve been a real chance at goal.

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RWB: Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 6/10 – Probably should’ve capitalised on Saka looking so vulnerable on the same flank.

CM: Nicolo Barella – 5/10 – Threatened a few times when getting on the ball higher up the field, but simply didn’t see enough of it. Should’ve scored from Dimarco’s square ball after an hour, offside or not.

CM: Jorginho – 6/10 – Kept things ticking over nicely, as Jorginho does. In every game ever.

CM: Bryan Cristante – 5/10 – The game passed him by somewhat.

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LWB: Federico Dimarco – 7/10 – Plenty of space to whip in a cross in wide areas. Took him a while to find his range, but, eventually, did exactly that. Problem causer.

ST: Giacomo Raspadori – 7/10 – Quiet all game, but came to life when it mattered. Beautiful first touch, even better finish.

ST: Gianluca Scamacca – 6/10 – Glimpses of his quality were on show with sharp touches and physical showings, but he was marked out of the game by two central defenders for the most part.

SUB: Wilfried Gnonto (63′ for Scamacca) – 6/10

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SUB: Tommaso Pobega (63′ for Barella) – N/A

SUB: Manolo Gabbiadini (81′ for Raspadori) – N/A

SUB: Emerson (88′ for Jorginho) – N/A

SUB: Davide Frattesi (88′ for Dimarco) – N/A

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Phil Foden

One of few positives for England / Giuseppe Cottini/GettyImages

GK: Nick Pope – 6/10 – Very, very little he could do to stop the opener for Italy. Quiet other than that beyond a few claims and kicks.

CB: Kyle Walker – 4/10 – Stood off Raspadori and gave him far too much room to fire at goal. Shouldn’t have even let him take it out of the air in the first place.

CB: Eric Dier – 5/10 – Defensively sound on his return to the setup, but lacked the belief to properly step out with the ball. Didn’t do enough to help out Walker to deal with Raspadori later on.

CB: Harry Maguire – 5/10 – No catastrophes. Suppose that’s what happens when you put pace around him – and play him in a team that is endlessly defensive.

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RWB: Reece James – 4/10 – Surprisingly wasteful in possession; particularly in wide areas,

CM: Jude Bellingham – 7/10 – Looked lively when exchanging quick passes with Foden and bursting forward into space. At his best when given licence to bring the ball forward.

CM: Declan Rice – 5/10 – Could’ve been braver and got himself on the ball more often. Too safe on an evening that needed more risks.

LWB: Bukayo Saka – 5/10 – Lost at sea in a position that does very little in getting the best out of him.

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RW: Phil Foden – 7/10 – Caused Italy problems when dropping deep and playing passes around the corner. Creative spark.

ST: Harry Kane – 6/10 – Starved of service for the most part in a frustrating evening for strikers.

LW: Raheem Sterling – 6/10 – Marked out of the game completely, but was bright on the rare occasion he could burst forward with the ball.

SUB: Jack Grealish (72′ for Saka) – N/A

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SUB: Luke Shaw (72′ for Walker) – N/A

Player of the match: Leonardo Bonucci



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EPL

RUMOUR: Man Utd could launch shock Pickford swoop as they consider letting De Gea go

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RUMOUR: Man Utd could launch shock Pickford swoop as they consider letting De Gea go

Manchester United may consider a shock bid for Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the midst of uncertainty encompassing David De Gea’s future, reports propose.

As per the Telegraph, United are not persuaded they need to broaden De Gea’s agreement, which runs out in June and procures him an astounding £350,000, and could allow him to go free of charge in June.

The Spanish shot-stopper, who was omitted from Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for the international break, suffered a poor start to the season with a raft of errors most notably at Brentford.

And United are also dealing with a high wage bill that reached a Premier League record of £384million last season.

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The Red Devils announced earlier this week that their salaries have increased by a whopping £61.6m from the previous year.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return as well as Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane’s arrivals led to a 19.1 per cent increase in their salary bill as well as a net loss amounting to £115.5m.

United are assessing their long-term plans and a change between the sticks can’t be ruled out, even though De Gea, 31, has improved recently and has been integral in the last 11 years at Old Trafford.

That could bring England’s No1 Pickford, 28, into the frame come January.

The Everton shot stopper has various clubs carefully monitoring his situation as he will have just one year left on his Everton contract at the end of the season.

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The England international is also a homegrown player, which is very appealing to his suitors.

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Rob Page says Wales ‘will be in contact’ with LAFC regarding Gareth Bale’s World Cup fitness

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Wales boss Rob Page has revealed he’ll remain in close contact with LAFC regarding Gareth Bale’s fitness as the World Cup approaches.

Bale played the full 90 minutes as Wales lost 1-0 against Poland on Sunday in a result that confirmed their relegation from their UEFA Nations League group.

However, that’s the first time the 33-year-old has managed a full game at any level since March of this year, while he hasn’t gone 90 at club level since a La Liga match against Getafe for Real Madrid in April 2020.

Wales’ next game is their World Cup Group B opener against the United States on November 21. Before then, it’s vital Bale plays as many minutes as possible in the MLS regular season and Playoffs for LAFC.

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“They want Gareth available for them and we want him in the physical position for the first [World Cup] game against the USA. We will be in contact with them and make sure he is in the right place,” Page said of Bale’s situation at LAFC, where only two of the forward’s 11 appearances have been from the start.

“What he does from now until the first game, we will be in contact with the club and help manage those minutes. They are a good outfit, LA, so they will know exactly how to get him from where he is now to full fitness, which is 90 minutes week in, week out.”

LAFC are level on 64 points with the Philadelphia Union at the top of the overall MLS standings. The Black and Gold have just two more regular season games remaining – away to the Portland Timbers and at home against Nashville SC – before they begin their Playoffs run.

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Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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Federico Bernardeschi reveals why he switched Juventus for Toronto FC & MLS

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Federico Bernardeschi has revealed he had multiple offers after leaving Juventus, but the ambition of Toronto FC and Major League Soccer played a key role in his move across the Atlantic.

The 28-year-old Italy international was one of a number of eye-catching additions for TFC this summer alongside compatriots Lorenzo Insigne – who agreed a contract earlier in the year – and Domenico Criscito.

Speaking to TLN, Bernardeschi has revealed he turned down other offers from ‘important’ clubs to move to Toronto.

“I believe that I finished a journey at Juventus. There were various teams we spoke to, and various teams that came forward,” he said.

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“They’re important names and I thank them, but there were little things that didn’t work out one way or another. With Toronto, everything went smoothly.”

Though TFC have continued to struggle, Bernardeschi has made an excellent start in MLS, scoring eight goals and assisting another two in his first 11 appearances.

That’s given the forward plenty of time to evaluate the quality of the league, and Bernardeschi has certainly been impressed by MLS so far.

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“I think MLS has a great future, I think they have very big projects, not only here in Toronto as they’re showing, but for the entire league,” he said.

“This is good for all football worldwide but especially for football and sport in North America. It is beautiful to see and for sure it’s beautiful to be a part of.”

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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