NEWS
Tuesday March 27 2018
Italy: Insigne holds England

Lorenzo Insigne converted a late penalty earned by Federico Chiesa, as Italy wasted too many chances and were caught napping by England for a 1-1 draw.

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The Azzurri were fresh from a 2-0 defeat to Argentina on Friday and this was their second friendly under interim Coach Gigi Di Biagio, awaiting a permanent tactician to replace Gian Piero Ventura. He stuck with the 4-3-3 formation, but brought in Gianluigi Donnarumma, Davide Zappacosta, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Antonio Candreva in for Gigi Buffon, Alessandro Florenzi, Marco Verratti and Federico Chiesa, but Lorenzo Spinazzola was injured.

It was almost the perfect start, as in the opening three minutes at Wembley Stadium, Ciro Immobile was twice sent clear in the box by Jorginho, but both times he hesitated and allowed John Stones to recover.

Jamie Vardy found himself in space too, but Mattia De Sciglio timed his diagonal run and sliding tackle in the penalty area just perfectly.

Immobile completed his hat-trick of misses by the 17th minute, nodding over from a well-placed Candreva cross. Considering England had kept five consecutive clean sheets, these were chances Italy simply could not afford to waste.

Donnarumma’s first real intervention was on 23 minutes, using his legs to deny Leicester City striker Vardy on the counter-attack.

However, Italy were made to pay for a remarkably naïve error. Another counter was halted by a foul, but as the Azzurri waited to organise their wall, Jesse Lingard took the free kick quickly and sent Vardy through to blast into the roof of the net. VAR was implemented in this friendly, but Marco Parolo and Daniele Rugani were simply caught napping.

Immobile and Ashley Young had efforts deflected wide. After the restart, Leonardo Bonucci flung himself in the path of Young’s finish from close range, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Immobile tested the goalkeepers.

Lorenzo Insigne curled a free kick over the bar, but Italy broke their all-time record by going over 360 minutes without a goal.

The two Napoli players combined to almost grab an equaliser, as Jorginho’s chipped pass found Insigne’s run, but the finish flashed across the face of goal and inches wide of the far post.

Federico Chiesa came off the bench and ran at defenders, brought down when Tarkowski trod on his ankle. The German referee viewed it again on VAR, used for this friendly, and a penalty was awarded to Italy. Insigne kept his cool to convert into the near bottom corner and end the Azzurri’s 374-minute goal drought, not to mention England’s 655-minute clean sheet.

England 1-1 Italy

Vardy 27 (E), Insigne pen 87 (I)

England: Butland; Walker, Stones (Henderson 73), Tarkowski, Trippier (Rose 59), Dier, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana 59), Young; Lingard (Cook 70), Vardy (Rashford 70), Sterling

Italy: Donnarumma; Zappacosta, Bonucci, Rugani, De Sciglio; Pellegrini (Gagliardini 79), Jorginho, Parolo; Candreva (Chiesa 55), Immobile (Belotti 64), Insigne

Ref: Aytekin (GER)

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