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England beat Italy 3-1 to reach Euro 2024 two rounds ahead of schedule. Southgate praised his team for easing into “one of the toughest groups”.

Gareth Southgate lauded his England side for easing through “one of the toughest” UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying groups following their 3-1 victory against Italy.

Despite going a goal down, the Three Lions showed composure to come from behind and enact revenge on Luciano Spalletti’s side for their agonising Euro 2020 final defeat by the Azzurri.

England sit top of Group C, three points clear of Ukraine, with five wins and a draw in a section that also included North Macedonia and Malta, as they secured their place in next summer’s tournament with two games remaining.

Southgate stressed it was a difficult group to qualify from, adding that his side will not be getting complacent with two games remaining.

“Firstly we need to make sure that we’re one of the top seeds next month, so we need to win the last two games,” the England manager said to Channel 4.

“You can finish as the top seed and still get a difficult draw. So we’d rather be in control of our destiny. And then we’ve got to keep building. There is more from this team in the mental space as much as everything. It’s matches like tonight, it’s matches like Naples. It’s matches like Hampden Park where we’ve gone and played really well – they’re the step for us.

Speaking on the group, he added: “This was one of the toughest qualifying groups with the seedings but we’ve performed really well.”

Gianluca Scamacca fired in from close range to give his side the lead after just 15 minutes, but Kane levelled from the spot after Jude Bellingham, who had another magnificent night in an England jersey, was brought down inside the penalty area.

The Real Madrid superstar was central to England’s second goal, combining in a stunning piece of linkup play with Marcus Rashford, who evaded three defenders to finish off the move and put England ahead.

Kane sealed the win and also surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of scoring the most goals at Wembley, 23, after dispatching a pinpoint strike past Gianluigi Donnarumma to net his 24th at the national stadium.

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After the match, Kane echoed Southgate’s comments, claiming that it’s harder to qualify for the Euros than it might seem.

“I feel like sometimes we make qualifying look easy, so credit to the boys because it’s not,” Kane said to BBC Radio 5 Live Sport.

“We’ve had one of the toughest groups, you’ve seen over recent years some big nations not going to major tournaments, so to do it [qualify] with two games to spare just shows the path we are on.

“We can enjoy it, it was a really good performance from everyone. Even when we went 1-0 down there was no panic. We stayed calm and carried on doing what we have done the whole campaign and obviously got the rewards in the second half.”

On having now beaten Italy home and away, Kane said his team will not be getting too far ahead of themselves.

He said: “We’ve beaten big nations quite consistently over the last few years. To win in Italy is one thing, but to back it up here too, with the performance, 3-1, comfortable for us, I think we showed a real maturity out there.

“We won’t get carried away. Enjoy the next camp, two more games to work together. Then these tournaments come around quick. Before we know it we’ll be in March and on the eve of the next tournament.”

England, with Ukraine close behind, will aim to finish their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign on a high as they face Malta and North Macedonia in their final two matches in November.

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