NEWS
Tuesday March 31 2015
Azzurri held by England

Graziano Pellè saw his goal wiped out by Andros Townsend as Italy drew a friendly 1-1 with England in Turin.

See how the game unfolded on our LIVEBLOG.

There was a great deal of tension ahead of this friendly test at the Juventus Stadium, as fans criticised Antonio Conte and the FIGC for covering the ‘32 Scudetti’ sign referencing their non-Calciopoli tally. Empoli midfielder Mirko Valdifiori made his debut, while it was the first start for Eder after he scored in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bulgaria. Harry Kane got his first England start and Theo Walcott his first since September 2013, but Wayne Rooney had a deeper role and Phil Jones pushed into midfield.

Despite the fears and even death threats, Conte was given a warm welcome by the crowd, though there were many empty seats.

Lazio midfielder Marco Parolo forced Joe Hart to palm a viciously dipping effort out from under the bar. Matteo Darmian burst down the left and rolled across for Eder, but Phil Jagielka made a decisive interception from six yards and Giorgio Chiellini nodded the corner wide.

England hit the bar with their first chance after 21 minutes, Kane knocking down a Fabian Delph cross for Rooney’s volley into the ground that bounced up and on to the bar.

The Azzurri took the lead through Graziano Pellè, who was left unmarked after a corner for his glancing header. Chiellini had skinned Phil Jones down the left to put in a fine cross with his weaker right foot.

Pellè just failed to get his head to another Alessandro Florenzi cross, but Chris Smalling went off injured, so Jones dropped back into central defence.

Matteo Darmian skipped past his defender to set up Eder, forcing Hart into a desperate one-handed save at the near post, then Pellè turned the follow-up wide.

Kane was overall quiet, but his effort was deflected on to the side-netting, the same fate befalling Kieran Gibbs.

Palermo’s Argentine-born Franco Vazquez made his Azzurri debut and immediately almost sent Ciro Immobile clear. Chiellini was decisive to stop Ross Barkley running into the box and Rooney stung Gigi Buffon’s gloves. Rooney just failed to get the final touch to a Kane ball flashed across the six-yard box.

England did better in the second half and equalised when Andros Townsend unleashed a screamer from outside the box that flew past a helpless Buffon.

It was almost 2-1 to the visitors moments later, but Buffon performed a brilliant save on Rooney at the near post.

Luca Antonelli also went extremely close, shaving a coat of paint off the far stick after a give-and-go with Vazquez. Leo Bonucci had penalty appeals for a Phil Jones handling offence, but it was from very close range, and Buffon took the sting out of a stoppage-time Kane attempt.

Italy 1-1 England

Scorers: Pellè 29 (I), Townsend 79 (E)

Italy: Buffon; Ranocchia, Bonucci, Chiellini (Moretti 73); Darmian (Antonelli 73), Parolo, Valdifiori (Verratti 67), Soriano, Florenzi (Abate 60); Eder (Vazquez 60), Pellè (Immobile 60)

England: Hart; Clyne (Walker 46), Smalling (Carrick 44), Jagielka, Gibbs (Bertrand 87); Henderson (Mason 74), Jones, Delph (Townsend 69); Rooney; Kane, Walcott (Barkley 55)

Ref: Brych (GER)