Sunday 23 October 2016

townsend to rescue for lions

England may not have passed their acid test against Italy with flying colours, but Andros Townsend's thunderous late drive at least means Roy Hodgson's men left Turin with a credible 1-1 draw last night .

A lot has changed in the nine months since the nations last met in their World Cup opener, with both line-ups vastly-changed for this glamour friendly at the Juventus Stadium.

Italy triumphed that night in Brazil and looked set to again through Graziano Pelle's glancing header, only for substitute Townsend to secure a 1-1 draw with an exquisite late strike.

England's first return to Turin since the World Cup semi-final against West Germany 25 years ago had been set to end in disappointment until that point.


Pelle, the only British-based player in the Italy squad, was the difference, putting his troubles in front of goal with Southampton behind him to net his second goal in three Azzurri appearances.

It gave them a deserved half-time lead, despite Wayne Rooney hitting the crossbar in the opening period, but it would not last as Hodgson's men improved markedly after the break.

Harry Kane was a constant threat on his first start for the Three Lions and Tottenham team-mate Townsend eventually levelled, firing past Gianluigi Buffon from 20 yards to extend England's unbeaten run to a ninth match.

Jagielka and Walker produced last-ditch challenges to deny the hosts getting a shot away, while the ever-impressive Buffon saved a Rooney half-volley at the other end.

The Three Lions skipper soon directed Kane's low, fizzing cross wide as an equaliser continued to elude them in Turin.

Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason came on for his debut as the clock wound down, before a fellow substitute finally made the breakthrough.

Nine minutes after replacing the ineffective Fabian Delph, Andros Townsend jinked into space and produced a wonderful, right-footed drive that flew past Buffon from 20 yards.

It was an exceptional strike and one which gave England renewed hope, with the Italy captain forced into a fine save to deny Rooney putting the visitors ahead moments later.

Luca Antonelli wasted a chance to secure the Azzurri victory, although Buffon's goal was under most pressure and Kane stung his palms before the full-time whistle was blown.

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