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International Friendly: England 1-1 Italy

Jamie Vardy gave England the lead after a quick free-kick from Jesse Lingard – click here for more in our brilliant
England will need to be better than that in Russia; so, too, perhaps will VAR.

England: Butland, Walker, Stones (Henderson 73), Tarkowski, Dier, Trippier (Rose 60), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana 60), Lingard (Cook 71), Young, Vardy (Rashford 70), Sterling

Subs not used: Hart, Pickford, Pope, Maguire, Mawson, Livermore, Alli, Welbeck

Booked: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walker

Goals: Vardy 26

Italy: Donnarumma, Zappacosta, Rugani, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Pellegrini (Gagliardini 79), Jorginho, Parolo, Candreva (Chiesa 56), Immobile (Belotti 64), Insigne

Subs not used: Buffon, Perin, Ferrari, Darmian, Ogbonna, Bonaventura, Verratti, Spinazzola, Verdi, Cutrone, Cristante, Florenzi

Goals: Insigne 87 (pen)

Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany).

That aside, it was another decent night for Gareth Southgate and his team. More progress and promise. England may have won had the teams remained stable. As usual the invasion of substitutes kills the flow.

It was a good night, too, for Jamie Vardy, who picks his victims well. Spain, Germany, Holland and now Italy for England; and every team in the Premier League’s top six this season.

OK, the internationals were all friendlies. Even so, these are still elite players with elite nations, and Vardy finds a way through. It is not as easy as he makes it look. When the clock ticked past the 64th minute at Wembley on Tuesday night, England passed the ten hour mark without conceding a goal. That shows how hard it is.

The results was not the worst, either. The outcomes of international friendlies are often dismissed as unimportant, but confidence isn’t.

England have now, in the space of five days, defeated Holland away and played well for long periods against Italy at home. And while neither nation is a force right now – and neither will be in Russia this summer – there is still a pleasant satisfaction in that.

Holland subsequently went to European champions Portugal and won 3-0 – and while Italy lost to a Lionel Messi-less Argentina last week, they had enough about them on Tuesday night to suggest they will be back.

So these are still happy days for the manager. Southgate is encouraging England’s back three to play, the forwards are quick and lively of thought, and in the combination of Kieran Trippier at right wing back with Kyle Walker at right centre half, England’s manager has found an innovative and imaginative option.


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