At a Wembley Stadium that was packed out for the big occasion, Italy left with an important draw. Above all, the team returned to goalscoring when Lorenzo Insigne converted from the spot in a hard-fought friendly after Vardy opened the scoring.
It was a different Italy side compared to the one last seen against Argentina. There were four changes. Donnarumma was in goal for Buffon, Zappacosta came in at the back alongside Rugani and De Sciglio. Bonucci was made captain. Jorginho, Parolo and Pellegrini were in the middle with a front three of Candreva, Immobile and Insigne.
It was a match between two different sides with Italy in search of identity and England going through their World Cup preparations. Not even a minute had gone before Immobile found himself clean through on Butland but he was unable to get the shot away. On 16 minutes, Immobile was then set up by an inviting Candreva cross but he headed over. Italy had the right attitude as they were concentrated and ready to attack space and close down when England launched their attacks and Vardy forced a save from Donnarumma on 24 minutes.
It was just an indicator of what was to come two minutes later when the Azzurri lost focus and Vardy made no mistake in firing England ahead just when Italy were enjoying their best spell of the match, just as had happened against Argentina.
The Azzurri were struggling with the home side’s ability to make the most of space. It was the same in the second half. Ten minutes in, Di Biagio made his first change with Chiesa coming on after making his debut on Friday in Manchester for Candreva. England forced Bonucci into making a great block and then Donnarumma. On 64 minutes, Belotti came on for Immobile. While looking for the equaliser, Italy were faced by an English wall but it didn’t hold. The side kept going until the end and on 79 minutes Insigne went just wide when he fired the ball across goal.
Italy’s fighting spirit paid off five minutes from time. Chiesa was brought down after dribbling into the area and it went to VAR which indicated that a penalty kick should be awarded. Insigne was cool and composed to step up and find the net as two young players starred on an evening that could mark a turning point. It was an important sign for the rebuilding project. "We kept going through the match, we made fewer mistakes in possession but we weren’t afraid of a full stadium," said Luigi Di Biagio. "I’m satisfied as I was after the second half against Argentina. We need to keep insisting on this, these guys have personality and they showed it by always believing at 1-0 down. At 1-1, the also went in search of a second goal."
It’s a result that brings confidence as Donnarumma stated. "This draw gives us a lot of enthusiasm, especially after the difficulties faced recently. We’re a good group, we’re developing and we need to continue along this road."