Declan Rice hailed as the 'best player on the pitch' in England's win over Italy
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England kicked off their Euro 2024 qualification campaign with an impressive 2-1 win over Italy in Naples on Thursday night.
Declan Rice put the Three Lions ahead with an instinctive finish early on before Harry Kane doubled the visitors' lead from the penalty spot - becoming England's all-time record scorer with his 54th goal for his country.
Italy found a route back into the match when debutant Mateo Retegui equalised before Luke Shaw was sent off for a second booking, setting up a nervy finish at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
But Gareth Southgate's side held on to secure an important win which puts them in control of the group.
It was England's first victory in Italy since 1961 and exorcised some of the demons of the Euro 2020 final defeat to the Azzurri.
West Ham captain Rice stood out with a complete performance which included only his third goal in senior international football.
He has been tipped for a big-money move away from the London Stadium this summer, with Arsenal and Chelsea set to battle for his signature.
Cole: Rice was outstanding
Speaking after the win over Italy, former Chelsea winger Joe Cole said Rice had been "outstanding from start to finish".
"Declan Rice was the best player on the pitch by a mile," Cole said on Channel 4.
"It was terrible defending for the goal, but he's alive to it.
"If it's a centre-forward we're talking about instinct. He was outstanding from start to finish.
"But I've got to say I'm baffled by Italy's defending. This is a country known for their defending but it was unacceptable from Italy in that first half.
"Most of the defenders just switched off. But Rice deserves credit because it takes it like a centre-forward, he did really well there."
Speaking about the final result, Cole added: "It's a significant win. When you win like that it means more.
"There's nothing better than this feeling."
England will look to build on their victory when they face Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: West Ham United, England, Declan Rice, Football, Transfers, Euro 2024