Jagielka, Defoe score as England beats Italy 2-1

BY foxsports • August 15, 2012

Phil Jagielka's first international goal and a late strike from Jermain Defoe helped England beat Italy 2-1 on Wednesday in a friendly rematch of their European Championship quarterfinal.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, whose side beat England on penalties at Euro 2012 in June, opted for youth for the match in Switzerland. But it was one of the old guard who gave the Azzurri the lead in the 15th minute when Daniele De Rossi headed in a corner.

Jagielka leveled for England in similar circumstances shortly before the half hour mark and Defoe struck the winner on the break in the 79th minute.

Both sides were much changed from the European Championship match, which Italy won en route to the final, where it lost 4-0 to Spain.

Ashley Young was the only survivor from the England side which started that match, while Ignazio Abate, Federico Balzaretti and De Rossi were the only players to feature in both starting lineups for Italy.

''It gave us a chance to see so many new players,'' England coach Roy Hodgson said. ''It was great to give the senior players a rest and blood so many new players, or players who didn't get the chance before, and I thought they answered the challenge in the best possible way.

''There was not a lot different from what we were trying to do in the Euros, but maybe tonight we showed a little bit more composure on the ball and managed to pass it a bit better.''

Hodgson handed debuts to Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland and Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, who both started for England, as well as bringing on Jack Ruddy, Jake Livermore and Ryan Bertrand in the second half for their first international appearances.

It is a remarkable rise for Butland, who becomes England's youngest ever goalkeeper. The 19-year-old's only senior experience at club level is the 24 games he played on loan for Cheltenham in the fourth tier of English football last season.

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli pulled out of the Italy squad on Monday with conjunctivitis, meaning uncapped Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia Destro started up front for the Azzurri.

''It was an unfair defeat,'' Prandelli said. ''But it was important for me to examine and evaluate individual players. I saw several interesting and important players.

''We have good alternatives and I'm happy because it wasn't an easy game. Some youngster are already ready, others need to play more during the league. For example, Destro was a key player last season and for because of that experience he's ahead in respect to others who are talented but need to play more consistently with their clubs.''

Destro looked eager to stake his claim for a permanent place and almost opened the scoring immediately when he won a corner, which Antonio Nocerino headed narrowly wide.

England's first opportunity came in the 10th minute when Andy Carroll got on the end of Frank Lampard's corner but he could not keep his header down.

Butland was called into action for the first time in the 15th minute when he reacted swiftly to turn aside Alessandro Diamanti's curling free-kick which flicked off the head of Leighton Baines.

However, from the resulting corner, Italy went in front when De Rossi headed in Diamanti's cross. It was the Roma midfielder's 78th game for the Azzurri.

Destro almost immediately doubled Italy's lead but he headed straight at Butland.

England went close to leveling in the 21st minute when Adam Johnson's feint wrongfooted Balzaretti, but Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu got down well to save.

Hodgson's team did level six minutes later thanks to Jagielka's diving header to meet Frank Lampard's corner.

Lampard almost got on the scoresheet himself just before halftime when his free kick scraped the top of the crossbar. Italy also went close moments later when Abate's shot flew across the face of goal from a tight angle.

Destro again went close 10 minutes after the break but substitute goalkeeper John Ruddy produced a superb save to prevent the ball from going into the bottom left corner from close range. The Roma striker was so certain of scoring that he already had his arms up in celebration.

Italy was again in control and Federico Peluso almost scored minutes later but he fired into the sidenetting.

Joel Lescott should have put England in front during a goalmouth tussle with Peluso in the 73rd minute, only for Sirigu to make a save on the line. The rebound ricocheted off Lescott's knee and Peluso's head before crashing off the post.

Ruddy produced another excellent save to deny Marco Verratti before Defoe scored a curling 20-meter shot following a swift counterattack.

Defoe almost doubled his tally minutes later, only narrowly missing the target.

It was Italy's fourth straight friendly loss.


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