England rescue deserved draw against Italy

Juventus' stadium in Turin was the venue for Italy vs. England on Tuesday


Rome - A memorable strike from substitute Andros Townsend was enough for England to earn a 1-1 draw against Italy, in Turin on Tuesday night.  The Azzurri had gone ahead through Graziano Pellè’s first half header.

 A much-changed England side recovered from a lacklustre first half display to dominate the second period and could have snatched victory in the latter stages of the game. Roy Hodgson placed an emphasis on youth for his starting XI with the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Phil Jones and Harry Kane included from the outset.

 Despite England’s impressive recent form, it was Italy who began the game in attacking fashion, forcing a couple of smart saves from Joe Hart in the opening 20 minutes. The Italians got a reward for their good start after 29 minutes when Southampton striker Pellè, took advantage of some non-existent marking to flick in a header from a free kick.

 For those expecting an immediate English response to going behind, there was disappointment in store. The midfield trio of Jones, Delph and Henderson struggled to replicate the attacking verve, which had been so apparent during the demolition of Lithuania, with Jones in particular finding it difficult to pick the right pass.

 However, when Smalling went off injured just prior to half time, it allowed manager Hodgson to shuffle his pack. Jones moved back into a more natural role in the centre of defence and his Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick, was introduced into midfield.

 As the second half progressed it was obvious that Carrick’s calming influence at the base of midfield was providing a platform upon which England could build. Chances came and went for Harry Kane and Kieran Gibbs, and Wayne Rooney stung the palms of veteran shot-stopper Gianluigi Buffon.

 With the contest entering its latter stages, it was clear that England would have to find a moment of magic in order to unlock the stubborn Azzurri defence. This arrived after 79 minutes in the form of Andros Townsend’s right-footed shot. Collecting the ball 25 yards from goal, the Tottenham Hotspur forward burst past a defender before unleashing a thunderbolt into the far corner, which left Buffon with no chance and earned a share of the spoils.

 The draw means that Hodgson’s team is now on a nine match unbeaten streak, and the England manager was quick to praise his players following the Italy game.

 "To say I was more happy with the second half than the first would be the understatement of the year," said Hodgson. “The second half was much closer to what we're trying to do and Ross (Barkley) and Andros can take a lot of credit for us injecting so much more tempo and pace into our game."