Wednesday 28 March 2018 08:41, UK
Lorenzo Insigne struck an 87th-minute penalty as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) helped Italy snatch a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley.
England had looked on course for a second straight 1-0 victory following Friday night's win over the Netherlands after Jamie Vardy's 27th-minute strike. But after a dramatic VAR review, referee Deniz Aytekin, with the help of the pitchside monitor, judged England debutant James Tarkowski to have tripped Federico Chiesa in the penalty area.
Insigne made no mistake from the spot, much to the frustration of Gareth Southgate, who saw his side stretch their unbeaten run to eight matches despite the late dent to their World Cup preparations.
On a night when Jimmy Armfield, Cyrille Regis and Davide Astori were remembered at Wembley, England started sluggishly and John Stones was the main offender, playing Ciro Immobile onside and losing possession to the striker on the edge of his own box in quick succession. Fortunately for England, the Manchester City defender recovered on both occasions to deny the Lazio star.
b>England: Butland (6), Young (7), Walker (7), Stones (6), Tarkowski (6), Trippier (7), Dier (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Sterling (8), Lingard (7), Vardy (7).
Subs: Rose (6), Lallana (6), Rashford (6), Cook (6), Henderson (6).
Italy: Donnarumma (7), Zappacosta (6), Rugani (6), Bonucci (6), De Sciglio (7), Pellegrini (6), Jorginho (7), Parolo (6), Candreva (6), Immobile (6), Insigne (7).
Subs: Chiesa (7), Belotti (6), Gagliardini (6).
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
The hosts also recovered, growing into the game slowly and they fashioned a chance for Vardy, who was denied by an excellent last-ditch tackle from Mattia De Sciglio. England's pace was causing Italy problems and Vardy was in behind again, but this time his weak effort was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Three minutes later, England were ahead and this time Vardy made no mistake after some quick thinking from Jesse Lingard. The opportunity looked like it had disappeared when Raheem Sterling was fouled, but Lingard's quick free-kick played Vardy through on goal and the striker finished emphatically, rifling the ball into the top corner to score his eighth international goal.
England continued to threaten after the break as Sterling slid the ball through for Ashley Young, who burst past one tackle in the penalty area but saw his shot well blocked by a sliding tackle from Leonardo Bonucci.
Changes throughout the second 45 minutes disrupted the flow of the game but Southgate's men always looked dangerous on the break. Eric Dier and Sterling combined well to set up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the Liverpool midfielder's shot was straight at Donnarumma.
Burnley's Tarkowski was included for his debut in defence as Gareth Southgate made five changes from the win over the Netherlands on Friday. Butland started in goal and Young, Dier and Vardy also came into the side in place of Jordan Pickford, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford.
Italy, who rarely threatened during the second half, almost snatched an equaliser when Jorginho picked out Insigne, but the forward's volley flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.
The visitors did snatch an unlikely draw three minutes from time and they were aided by VAR after Chiesa went down in the penalty area following contact from Tarkowski. The referee eventually awarded the penalty after consulting the footage on the pitchside monitor and Insigne buried his spot-kick past Jack Butland and into the bottom corner to grab his side a share of the spoils.
England's pace caused Italy problems all night and Sterling was a key part of that.
The Manchester City winger used his pace to great effect, driving England forward at every opportunity and played a key role in the build-up to Vardy's goal.
He also held the ball up well, allowing other players to join in with the attacks in what was another promising display from Sterling, who is fast becoming a key part of Southgate's World Cup plans.
England's World Cup preparations continue on June 2 when they host Nigeria at Wembley. They take on Costa Rica at home five days later (June 7) before their World Cup campaign gets underway against Tunisia (June 18).
Italy play a friendly against Saudi Arabia on May 27 before taking on France (June 1) and the Netherlands (June 4).