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England, Italy thrashed in Nations League

A long, long season has finally ended in European football and for the international players of England and Italy it is long overdue.

Italy, last year’s European champions, concluded a season in which they have failed to qualify for the World Cup by losing 5-2 in Dortmund to Germany in the Nations League.

England, who lost on penalties in the Wembley final, suffered an even worse defeat, beaten by Hungary 4-0 at Wolverhampton. It was England’s worst home defeat since 1928.

By the end fans were telling Gareth Southgate – England’s most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey a half-century ago, ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’.

“It’s not pleasant … People pay to come and watch. They’re going to give an opinion. The team weren’t able to deliver tonight, my responsibility and so if the flak comes my way then I have to deal with that,” Southgate said.

“I can’t dress up what’s happened tonight in any way, shape or form but if we’re judged on the matches with our full strength players, then I think it’s a different assessment.

“It’s not realistic to have had the ride I’ve had for five years and not have bad nights.”

The result left England bottom of Group A3 on two points and in danger of being relegated while Hungary (7) are top, followed by Germany (6) and Italy (5).

Hungary led 1-0 thanks to Roland Sallai’s early goal before England fell apart. Sallai made it 2-0 in the 70th minute before Zsolt Nagy fired home for 3-0. England defender John Stones was sent off for a second booking and Daniel Gazdag added a fourth for the visitors.

It was England’s heaviest home loss since being beaten 5-1 by Scotland 94 years ago.

Asked if he is still confident of World Cup success in Qatar, Southgate replied: “After a result like tonight, whatever my answer to that question is going to be open to ridicule.

“So I’ve got to get the balance right, that is what we’re very clear on. What works for us, what gets results for us? What has got results for us … We’ve always said we are one of a group of teams that can be pushing in the winter. I don’t believe that’s any different.”

Elsewhere, Belgium’s 1-0 win over Poland in Group A4 was more restrained than their 6-1 thrashing of the same opposition last week.

Michy Batshuayi’s diving header in the first half was enough for Belgium to move up to second on seven points, three behind the Netherlands who stayed top by beating Wales 3-2.

Turkiye made it four wins from four in Group C1 with a 2-0 home win over Lithuania, while there were also wins for Scotland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova and Latvia.

With AP and PA.

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