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England defeat hosts to top Group A

Each of these top European sides had already secured their places at the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games in Bali, but the mission of each was now clear: lifting the Qualifier trophy in Catania.

Italy seemed to start off the match the brighter side, but Gemma Hillier flew in a the far post to turn in a brilliant cross from Sarah Kempson. Soon after Buckingham was brought down in the box, won a penalty and calmly slotted it past Ruotolo.

Claudia Saggion stepped up to score a wonder goal before the break, pulling the Azzurre back to 2-1. Hannah Short re-established the two-goal cushion for England after the restart.

Molly Clark, the 2019 Best Player in the world, was taken down on the halfway line and punished Italy further with a cleanly struck free kick to make it 4-1.

Del Duca’s side did manage to pull one back in the dying moments, a brilliant volley from Vechionne, but it wasn’t enough to stop England from clinching the group title, and claiming revenge for the defeat in the EBSL, back in Nazaré in July.

England will now face old rivals Spain in the semi-finals tomorrow, while Italy will go up against Ukraine.

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