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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
England U21 2-2 Italy U21
Leroy Lita
Lita scored on 26 minutes to put England 2-0 ahead
England squandered a two-goal lead against Italy in a thrilling game at the European Under-21 Championship.

David Nugent's 24th-minute header put England in front then Leroy Lita blasted home two minutes later.

But Italy hit back as Giorgio Chiellini scrambled home, then Alberto Aquilani drove in after the break to level.

England play group winners Serbia in their final group game on Sunday and are likely to need at least a draw to reach the semi-finals.

However, they also know that after drawing their first two matches, victory against Serbia will guarantee a place in the last four.

Stuart Pearce's side began brightly and Lita - who missed a penalty in England's opening goalless draw with the Czech Republic - had two early chances in quick succession.

The first has to go down as a glaring miss. Lita latched on to an excellent long pass from Mark Noble, but having neatly taken the ball past goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, he scuffed his effort horribly wide.

The second was unfortunate as a snap shot, following a fumble from Viviano, rebounded off the underside of the bar.

606: DEBATE
SP

Giampaolo Pazzini, scorer of the first goal at the new Wembley Stadium in the match between the two sides in March, led a quick counter-attack and saw his shot blocked by Steven Taylor.

But England were on top and they broke the deadlock on 24 minutes, Nugent diving to head Leighton Baines' perfect cross from the left into the net.

Two minutes later it was 2-0 as Ashley Young took advantage of sloppy Italian play to put in Lita who finally got his goal, hammering a powerful shot past Viviano.

Italy hinted at the comeback to follow when Aquilani unleashed a superb 30-yard shot which clipped the top of the England crossbar.

And they pulled a goal back on 35 minutes in scrappy fashion as Chiellini deflected Raffaele Palladino's scuffed shot past Scott Carson.

Carson was in action moments later, producing a superb stop from Pazzini's header to prevent an Italian equaliser.

The Italians began the second half strongly and Riccardo Montolivo forced a good low save from Carson with a drive.

England were pressed back as the Italians - who knew defeat would put them out of the tournament - pushed forward.

Despite that, Nigel Reo-Coker was only denied by a great save from Viviano as England mounted a counter-attack just after the hour mark.

But England were made to regret the miss moments later as Aquilani hit a fine low strike past Carson from 20 yards.

The match was wide open and Young nearly fashioned a wonder strike as he forced his way between two defenders and into the area before unleashing a shot which Viviano tipped on to the bar.

Both sides continued to attack in search of the winner, but neither could find the breakthrough.


England U21: Carson, Hoyte, Taylor, Onuoha, Baines, Milner, Reo-Coker (Richardson 90), Noble, Young, Nugent (Whittingham 69), Lita (Vaughan 83).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Alnwick, Cahill, Routledge, Rosenior, Huddlestone, Derbyshire.

Booked: Reo-Coker, Baines, Carson, Noble, Young.

Goals: Nugent 24, Lita 26.

Italy U21: Viviano, Raggi (Motta 45), Mantovani (Criscito 59), Andreolli, Chiellini, Nocerino, Aquilani, Montolivo, Rosina, Palladino (Rossi 46), Pazzini.
Subs Not Used: Curci, Consigli, Coda, Canini, Dessena, Padoin, Pelle, Lazzari, Cigarini.

Booked: Raggi , Motta.

Goals: Chiellini 36, Aquilani 69.

Att: 21,000.

Ref: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).



SEE ALSO
Pearce expecting England progress
14 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Czech Rep U21 0-1 Serbia U21
14 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Chris Waddle on England's U21s
12 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Pearce calls for U21 improvement
11 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Czech Rep U21 0-0 England U21
11 Jun 07 |  Internationals
Serbia U21 1-0 Italy U21
11 Jun 07 |  Internationals
England U21s draw Wembley cracker
24 Mar 07 |  Internationals


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