International Friendly: Townsend in from cold to reheat tepid England and preserve run

 
Ross McLean
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Veteran Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was finally beaten by England substitute Andros Townsend’s long-range equaliser
Hodgson indebted to his substitutes as Three Lions rally to make it nine games without a defeat

ITALY 1 ENGLAND 1

ENGLAND boss Roy Hodgson savoured the impact of substitute Andros Townsend after the Tottenham forward maintained his side’s unbeaten streak with a late leveller last night against Italy in Turin.

Hodgson was furious with the Three Lions’ tepid first-half showing in which Southampton striker Graziano Pelle, out of sorts at club level, opened the scoring with his second goal in three Italy appearances.

All the pre-match build-up focused on Spurs starlet Harry Kane but it was his team-mate, forgotten man Townsend, and fellow substitute Ross Barkley, who offered England greater impetus and triggered the fightback.

A draw ended England’s seven-match winning run, which included five successive Euro 2016 qualifying victories, but made it nine in a row without defeat if the goalless dead rubber with Costa Rica that capped a dismal 2014 World Cup is counted.

“We’re indebted to Andros. When we needed someone to do something a bit special, he’s come up with the goods,” said Hodgson.

“I thought he and Barkley really turned the game. I thought Barkley in particular was very brave and courageous, prepared to get on the ball and prepared to take people on. He really is an outstanding young talent.

“I think the goal will mean a lot to Andros but it also means a lot to us. It’s no mean feat, even in a friendly game, to come to Italy and get a result. It’s never an easy thing to do, nor is it to take the game to them like we did in the second half.

“But I haven’t forgotten the first half. We cannot allow that to happen. We’ve got standards. I don’t think anything was good enough in the first half. We were lucky they were pretty tame as well.

“But the second half keeps the momentum going and now takes us to nine unbeaten and that’s important. Every time you suffer a defeat it knocks you back a bit.”

Skipper Wayne Rooney was inches from becoming the first post-war England player to score in six successive matches, striking the crossbar with a deflected shot after Kane’s knockdown was partially cleared.

Italy took the lead shortly before the half-hour as goal-shy Pelle, with one goal in 16 games for Southampton, glanced home an inswinging cross after Chiellini outstripped makeshift midfielder Phil Jones. The Azzurri had only conceded eight in their last 12 fixtures but started to rock as England retaliated. Kane’s deflected attempt flashed into the side-netting, while an overlapping Gibbs squirmed a shot wide after being picked out by Rooney.

The Three Lions skipper stung the palms of omnipresent Italy stopper Gianluigi Buffon inside the final 20 minutes and then flicked wide of the far post following a teasing Kane centre moments later.

England levelled in the 79th minute through Townsend’s third international goal when he slipped a challenge and lashed right-footed across Buffon from 25 yards.

Buffon still had time to deny Rooney at close range and repel a fizzed attempt from Kane.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

Joe Hart 6
Helpless to stop Pelle’s precise header and off his line sharply to prevent Eder doubling the lead

Nathaniel Clyne 4
Italy found joy going at Southampton right-back in first half, which he failed to mitigate in attacking raids

Chris Smalling 5
No glaring errors but evening tainted by his presence in England’s worst 45 minutes since the World Cup

Phil Jagielka 6
Topsy-turvy display in which vital last-ditch clearances just about outweighed a few defensive mis-steps

Kieran Gibbs 6
Neat at back and made two good chances for Rooney but ought to have scored when hit the side-netting

Phil Jones 5
Ineffective in midfield and allowed Chiellini to cross for goal but made one key tackle once back in defence

Jordan Henderson 5
More effective after Carrick’s introduction but lacked the dynamism of his most recent Liverpool displays

Fabian Delph 3
Turned over possession repeatedly with poor decisions and weak execution when under even slight pressure

Wayne Rooney 8
A class above attacking colleagues and unlucky not to score after testing Buffon twice and hitting the bar

Theo Walcott 5
Starved of service but when openings did arrive he could not escape defenders to get shot on target

Harry Kane 7
Limited to half-chances but hit side-netting, drew a save and supplied a dangerous low cross for Rooney

Substitutes
Carrick (Smalling, 42) 8: transformative; Walker (Clyne, 45) 6: improved both ends; Barkley (Walcott, 55) 7: erratic but a threat; Townsend (Delph, 70) 7: lively and a brilliant goal; Mason (Henderson, 74) 5: scant impact on debut.