England come from behind to seal Italy draw

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Towsend's screamer secured England's leveller
Towsend's screamer secured England's leveller


A much changed England team produced a stirring second half performances to snatch a draw against Italy, with Tottenham's Andros Townsend scoring a sensational leveller with just 11 minutes left to play.

Harry Kane - who made his first England start in Turin - made a big impact after his introduction from the bench against Lithuania, but on Tuesday night it was his Spurs team-mate who stole the limelight this time.

Nine minutes after coming off the bench, Townsend drove a fierce 20-yard drive past Gianluigi Buffon to earn England a creditable draw at the Juventus Stadium.

Southampton's Graziano Pelle scored Italy's opener, but there was no doubt that England deserved a draw in the final analysis on a night when they missed the chances to secure a victory.

“I think we deserved to win it in the end,” Rooney told ITV Sport. “We had the better chances.

"Italy were the better team in the first half, partly because of ourselves because we didn’t put enough pressure on the ball and we let them have it too easily.

“Second half we came out and dominated. We created chances and could have won the game. Italy away, so it’s not a disastrous result and it keeps us on an unbeaten run since last summer, so we have to be happy after that first half performance.

“It was important to keep the unbeaten run going. We know this is a friendly game and we are missing a lot of players, but it was a good chance for the players that came in to give the manager something to think about.

“The first half was not what we had planned and we had to react second half and we have done that and we could have won the game. We have to see this in a positive way as it was a good result in the end.”

Hodgson reserved special praise for his substitutes Ross Barkley and Townsend, as they had a big impact on the game after coming off the bench.

“Barkley and Townsend really turned the game,” Hodgson stated. “I thought Barkley, in particular was really, really good. Very brave, very courageous, prepared to get on the ball all the time, prepared to take people on.

“He really is an outstanding young talent and it has been great that we had him for these two games, giving him 20 minutes in the first game [against Lithuania last Friday] and almost a half here.

“I also have to say a word for Andros. That is the second time he has come on when we needed someone to do something special and he has come up with the good.

“It is no mean feat to come to Italy and get a result, especially to take the game to them like we did in the second half. We are indebted to Andros. We had chances before his goal, but it was his strike that got us the draw.”

Townsend responded to his goal with this tweet directed at Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who had suggested the Spurs winger did not deserved to be in the England squad. 

The result means England are still unbeaten since their woefully early World Cup exit last summer, in a run that has included seven wins and two draws.