Italy snatch late draw after Rooney heroics.
Alessandro Matri scoring a dramatic late equalizer to cancel out Wayne Rooney's goal to save Italy from defeat.
After England beat Qatar 3-0, they were ready to face a much harder test, Italy. The Italians drew 2-2 against Morocco heading into this tie and looked the odds on favourites to beat England.
England fans were very pleased with England's performance against Qatar and hope that they'd continue the good form when they face Italy, and hope that Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney can add to his tally of three goals already.
The scene was set for this to be a very tight affair.
England XI vs Italy
(4-3-3)Hart; Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Carrick(c), Jones, Wilshere; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Rooney.
Subs: Ruddy, Caulker, Gerrard, Sturridge, Henderson, Barkley, Shaw, Welbeck, Rodriguez, Sterling, Clyne, Foster.
Italy XI vs England
(4-3-1-2)Buffon(c); Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Santon; Florenzi, De Rossi, Marchisio; Rossi; Pratto, Balotelli.
Subs: Sirigu, Montolivo, Candreva, Matri, Chiellini, Bonaventura, Aquilani, Bocchetti, Crisito, Poli, Ogbonna, Consigli.
Roy Hodgson made two changes to his England squad, brining in Jagielka for Henderson and Carrick for Gerrard, and they were going to face a very solid Italian team lead by the man himself Mario Balotelli who wanted to impress out there and get one over his former team-mate Joe Hart.
The Italians kicked off and immediately set out to dominate possession, with De Rossi playing many passes left and right to try and expose England on the wings, which didn't work for them and almost cost them a goal as Kyle Walker was able to steal the ball from Rossi on the right and ran down the wing before playing a delightful cross into the 6 yard box for Buffon to smother before Rooney could get there.
Italy continued to dominate possession and created a huge chance when Santon played the ball to Marchisio who ran Baines to the byline and crossed the ball in towards the head of Mario Balotelli, but the strong Italian forward could not beat his former team-mate Joe Hart as he acrobatically tipped the ball over the crossbar which the England fans applauded.
England then were able to carve open an area of the Italian defence and Jones weighted a delightful pass towards the on-rushing Wayne Rooney who appeared to be taken down by Bonucci in the penalty box but the linesman ignored it which left Rooney furious and the England players protested to the referee but he didn't pay any attention and waved play on.
Shot-Stopper: Joe Hart(above) has not conceded a goal for England since playing Ukraine in the qualifying stages.
Mario Balotelly then got booked before the break after going in with his studs up against Adam Lallana, in which the Southampton star man was lucky to come off without hurting himself, and Roy Hodgson showed his anger to the fourth official on how Balotelli only escaped with a yellow card.
England restarted the game and put a string of passes together with Michael Carrick being heavily involved in each phase of play, he experience in confined areas proved useful as he was able to rescue England from a fast Italian counter-attack by tackling the on-rushing Pratto who looked to be through on goal.
England then created a piece of brilliance. Wilshere ran from the halfway line and passed the ball to Chamberlain, who evaded the challenge of Santon and played the ball towards the edge of the box where Wayne Rooney was waiting and fired England ahead with a neat volley into the bottom corner of Buffon's net.
England then set up defensively with Hodgson telling his team to fall back and go on the counter when they regained possession which worked very well, with Phil Jones getting in a vital challenge on Rossi and plsying the ball to Lallana, who ran towards the byline but couldn't direct his cross towards Wilshere who was waiting in the box.
England looked set to win the game, but then Marchisio got hold of the ball and played it to Balotelli who laid it off the De Rossi as he ran into the box, De Rossi then played it back to Balotelli who made it into a good area in England's box and headed the ball into the crossbar, Joe Hart couldn't get a touch on it and Matri was able to bundle the ball in to earn Italy a draw.
Engine: De Rossi(above) covered the most distance out of any player on the pitch, 11.95km.
England were hard done by as they deserved to win the game but without a doubt Roy Hodgson will take this draw and hope they can defeat an in-form Moroccan side in a few days time.
Roy Hodgson's Post Match Comments:
"Credit to the team today, they played very well and quite frankly deserved to win the game. It's a shame to not win the game but a draw against a team like Italy is a very good result, and we can build from this as we take on Morocco in a few days time. Overall, pleasing performance by everyone on the team and they should all be proud of themselves."