Rhian Brewster’s quick brace earned the England Under-21s an impressive 2-0 friendly win in Italy.
The forward tripled his goalscoring tally for the Young Lions at Pescara as Lee Carsley’s side began their countdown to Euro 2023.
Brewster had scored just once in 16 previous appearances but argued he was Carsley’s hitman next summer after impressing since recovering from a serious injury hamstring that wrecked last season for the Sheffield United striker.
Skipper Nicolo Rovella was sent off late for Italy after picking up two yellow cards as England cruised to victory.
Carsley had Italy’s best moments on a loop in the canteen at St George’s Park to give his side as much information as possible, such is the lack of time he has with them before their next meeting in March.
The boss wanted to test his side – who host Germany in Sheffield on Tuesday – and they had clearly heeded any message as they took a 2-0 lead.
Conor Gallagher was brought down by Edoardo Bove after just one minute and Brewster stepped in to put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot.
The Blades striker – who has scored just three league goals in the past two years – then added a handsome second after just five minutes.
Gallagher was involved again, allowing Angel Gomes to drive through the Italian midfield and find Brewster behind to finish in style on exposed Alessandro Plizzari.
Andrea Cambiaso took the lead before Chelsea’s Gallagher was denied a third after 15 minutes when Caleb Okoli produced an excellent block.
England were comfortable but still needed Brewster to nod Rovella just before the break.
Carsley’s side nearly entered the interval 3-0 ahead when Levi Colwill hit a post in first-half stoppage time.
The hosts tried to recover and Lorenzo Colombo fired a shot early in the second half, but England limited them to speculative efforts.
Cole Palmer saw Plizzari overturn his drive low just after the hour mark before Carsley made a host of changes including replacing Brewster with Folarin Balogun.
England kept their cool, in a professional and controlled performance that will please the boss, although they came close to giving Italy a lifeline when Colombo headed in their direction.
The evening then ended as badly as it started for Italy when Juventus’ Rovella, on loan at Monza, received a second yellow card for a reckless tackle on Jacob Ramsey four minutes from time.