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Saturday 3 December 2016

Andros Townsend blasts back at Paul Merson after England nick draw with Italy

England's Andros Townsend celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with his club teammates Ryan Mason (left) and Kyle Walker (right) during the international friendly at the Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
England's Andros Townsend celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with his club teammates Ryan Mason (left) and Kyle Walker (right) during the international friendly at the Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy

Andros Townsend enjoyed silencing the critics with his wonder strike for England, saying naysayers like Paul Merson provided the perfect motivation for him in Italy.

This has been a topsy-turvy season for the 23-year-old, who has yet to reach the heights he scaled when he first burst onto the international scene.

Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson has, however, kept faith with the Tottenham winger - belief he paid back in quite exceptional fashion at the Juventus Stadium.

Trailing to a Graziano Pelle header, Townsend hit a wonderful 20-yard strike across Gianlugi Buffon to secure England a 1-1 draw, extending their unbeaten run to a ninth match.

The substitute, only introduced nine minutes earlier, celebrated wildly and did not stop there, taking to Twitter shortly after leaving the field to hit back at former Arsenal and England midfielder Merson for recent comments made about him.

Posting via his account @andros_townsend, he said: "Not bad for a player that should be 'nowhere near the squad' ay @PaulMerse?"

Townsend has clearly been stewing on Merson's comments and certainly enjoyed posting the update.

"I have been thinking about it all week," Townsend said, smiling. "I have just been desperate to get on the pitch and silence a few critics.

"As soon as the goal went in, I was thinking of all the people questioning my call-ups and saying I should be nowhere near the England squad.

"Hopefully that will keep them quiet for a few months and hopefully they can realise the quality I bring to the team."

Townsend believes he has done himself justice every time he has put on an England shirt, but has grown accustomed to the criticism which follows his call-ups.

The goal in Turin was his third in seven England appearances and one he was frustrated not to have been followed by a winner.

"I think in the end, we are kind of disappointed we did not get the win," Townsend said.

"We got the goal in the 79th minute and we had two or three half chances. We were the team pushing for the win.

"So in that sense, we were disappointed we didn't get the win but on the whole we should be proud of coming to a massive nation like Italy in their own back yard to get a draw."

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