KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY —- England, after a sleepy start, woke up in good time to stride decisively through to the Euro finals in Germany by defeating defending champions Italy 3-1 at Wembley with goals from captain Harry Kane (two) and Marcus Rashford. They even progressed with two matches to spare.

This was England’s first win at home against the Azzurri since 1977 and followed up their earlier Group C success in Italy, itself a first win there since 1961. Victory dispelled too many awkward memories including, most particularly, the Euro final two years ago when the Italians denied England to take the crown in a penalty shootout.

Either side of that denouement England had reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals of World Cups in Russia and Qatar for which the Azzurri had not even qualified. More, England were at what counts as full strength while Italy had a new national coach in Luciano Spalletti and a team packed with virtual international unknowns.

It all looked almost too promising for England manager Gareth Southgate, captain Harry Kane, Real Madrid’s new hero Jude Bellingham and the rest.

Italy, indeed, took the lead after 15 minutes when Gianluca Scamacca celebrated his return to London – where he disappointed with West Ham – by deftly converting Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s short, right-wing cross.

Di Lorenzo was then on the wrong end of the action in the 28th minute when he felled the onrushing Bellingham. Nerveless Kane converted the penalty, sending Gigi Donnarumma the wrong way for his record-extending 60th England goal.

Rashford at one end and then Destiny Udogie at the other were both denied at close range by the two goalkeepers in an end-to-end flurry before the halftime whistle.

England needed just over 10 minutes after the restart to take the lead after an Italian-style high-speed counter-attack. The brilliant Bellingham raced down through the centre of the pitch, drawing defenders like an all-white magnet before setting Rashford free to cut inside and drive low past Donnarumma’s left hand.

England were soon running away with it. In the 76th minute Kane snatched possession from Scalvini in midfield and ran clear to make it 3-1. This was Kane’s 24th goal for England at Wembley, one more than the record previously held by Sir Bobby Charlton.

The teams

England: Pickford – Walker, Stones (Guechi 63), Maguire, Trippier – Phillips (Henderson 70), Bellingham (Grealish 84), Rice – Foden, Kane, Rashford.

Italy: Donnarumma – Di Lorenzo, Scalvini, Acerbi (Bastoni 63), Udogie (Dimarco 63) – Frattesi, Cristante, Barella – Berardi (Raspadori 78), Scamacca (Kean 63), El Sharaawy (Orsolini 87).

Referee: Turpin (Fr). Att: 84,194.