12 Jun 2022 | 08:52
England and Italy played a goalless draw in front of empty stands as Gareth Southgate tested against the inexperienced Azzurri in the Nations League.
After a shock 0-1 loss to Hungary and Tuesday’s tough 1-1 draw in Germany, the Three Lions continue their World Cup preparations against Roberto Mancini’s European champions at Wolverhampton.
The vibe surrounding this Nations League encounter couldn’t be more different than that of the Euro 2020 final at Wembley 11 months ago, when crowd trouble added to England’s painful penalty shootout loss to Italy.
That fan turmoil means Saturday night’s reunion must take place behind closed doors at Molineux, where the Group A3 clash ended in a forgettable 0-0 draw.
Just seven people started in the Euro 2020 squad as Southgate tested its outfield players ahead of a winter World Cup that Italy will miss, allowing Mancini to fully focus on their rebuilding. .
Mason Mount’s shot hit the crossbar early and Aaron Ramsdale denied Sandro Tonali in the open first half causing the second half to be interrupted by substitutions.
Reserve captain Raheem Sterling squandered the home team’s best chance in a game watched by thousands of students. There were a few boos from the kids the whole time.
At the same time, Brennan Johnson’s first international goal gave Wales a well-deserved 1-1 Nations League draw against Belgium in Cardiff.
Johnson missed Aaron Ramsey’s pass home three minutes, his effort passing a difficult VAR check for offside before celebrations could begin.
Youri Tielemans gave Belgium the lead in the 51st minute but, again, it was Wales’ spirited and resilient display against a world-class opponent.
Wales, still well ahead of the World Cup, will feel their Nations League performance was much more deserving, but in the end they got their fair share.