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Late VAR penalty denies England win over Italy

27 March, 2018 — By By Paul Cowling

International friendly

ENGLAND 1 (Vardy 26)
ITALY 1 (Insigne 88 Pen)

ENGLAND were denied a second successive friendly victory after Italy were awarded a late penalty by the video assistant referee (VAR) at Wembley tonight (Tuesday).

Lorenzo Insigne converted to cancel out Jamie Vardy’s first half opener for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions. It denied England their first win over Gli Azzurri in 41 years.

After the match Gareth Southgate showed his frustration with the VAR system. He said: “It is what it is. We have to accept the ruling, but I don’t think it is clear and obvious,” said the England coach.

“Generally is it the right route to go down? I believe the referee’s decision is final.”

“But overall I am pleased with the performance. It was a perfect test for us. Generally we defended well and were pretty compact as a team.”

Southgate also admitted England “were sloppy in the first five minutes”, in which Italy could have scored two or three goals. He said: “We gave the ball away in our penalty area, but then we settled down and created more chances.”

England, who hadn’t conceded in five games, looked timid and clumsy in defence from the word go, with John Stones culpable with two sloppy losses of concentration.

Their build up play was also too slow and meandering, and they gave the ball away too often in dangerous positions.

With more luck, and better finishing from Ciro Immobile, Italy could have been 3-0 up inside the first 20 minutes.

But then out of nowhere, England were ahead on 26 minutes. Jesse Lingard took a quick free kick and found Vardy, who unleashed a smasher into the back of the net.

The goal settled England down and buoyed the crowd. The tempo was quickened and suddenly the home side were more of a threat.

Raheem Sterling caused panic for the Italian back line as England looked to build on their lead, but going in at the break they had just the one goal to show for their efforts.

England took complete control for most of the second period, without really threatening a second.  Italy seemed bemused and their usual tenacity and verve, blunted with frustration. But they were still a threat, and the game was far from over.

In the 87th minute, German referee Deniz Aytekin overturned an original decision not to award a penalty when Federico Chiesa went down too easily between Adam Lallana and James Tarkowski.

VAR showed that Tarkowski had stepped on the toes of the Fiorentina man, and that was enough. Insigne stepped up to give the Italians an unexpected, and on their second half showing, an undeserved equaliser.

“I am glad it’s not the World Cup yet,” admitted Southgate, referring yet again to the VAR system and how it had cost England a morale-boosting win.

ENGLAND: Butland; Walker, Stones (Henderson, 72), Tarkowski; Trippier (Rose, 60), Young; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana, 60) Dier; Lingard (Cook, 71), Vardy (Rashford, 70), Sterling
Subs not used: Hart, Maguire, Mawson, Livermore, Alli, Welbeck, Pope, Pickford

ITALY: Donnarumma, Zappacosta, Rugani, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Parolo, Jorginho, Pellegrini (Gagliardini, 79), Candreva (Chiesa, 56), Immobile (Belotti, 64), Insigne
Subs not used: Buffon, Perin, Florenzi, Darmian, Ferrari, Ogbonna, Verratti, Cristante, Bonaventura, Cutrone, Verdi

Attendance: 82,598

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