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  Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 22:02 GMT
Montella stuns England
Italy's match-winner Montella leads the celebrations
England 1-2 Italy

England's World Cup preparations suffered a setback as Italy secured a last-gasp win at Elland Road.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side looked on course for victory when substitute Robbie Fowler put England ahead after 62 minutes.

But Vincenzo Montella cut short the celebrations with an equaliser five minutes later - then stunned England by snatching victory from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game.

  Match facts
45 mins: England make nine changes
63 mins: Robbie Fowler puts England 1-0 up
67 mins: Vincenzo Montella equalises in style
90 mins: Montella wins it from the spot
The low-key friendly looked destined for a draw deep into injury time until David James upended Massimo Maccarone as he chased Montella's pass.

Montella stroked home the spot-kick to give Italy the win - but Eriksson is only likely to be nursing damaged pride after a match high on experimentation but low on real significance.

It was literally an international of two halves as Eriksson used 11 substitutes to assess all his options as the countdown to Korea and Japan continues.

Eriksson will not have learned any serious lessons from this under-stated encounter against a typically resilient Italian side.

The big plus was the performance of Southampton's Wayne Bridge as he once again pressed his claims for a left flank slot.

Danny Mills launches an England attack
England's first-half performance reflected the makeshift nature of Eriksson's line-up - disjointed and lacking in cohesion.

Their best moment in the opening period came when David Beckham's free-kick caused mass confusion in the Italy box.

Michael Owen's miskick fell kindly for Sol Campbell, who saw a close range effort turned over the bar by Gianluigi Buffon.

Italy were no more impressive, but forced England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn into action as half-time approached.

Gianluca Zambrotta's powerful effort was blocked by Martyn, who then turned Luigi Di Biagio's free-kick to safety.


I think we did very well and felt we deserved a draw from the game - it is disappointing but not dramatic
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
The inevitable avalanche of England substitutions materialised at half-time, with only Bridge and Trevor Sinclair remaining from the starting team.

Spurs defender Ledley King was awarded his first cap, and he almost marked it in spectacular style after 58 minutes with an effort from 18 yards that was well saved by Buffon.

The half-time changes meant the unlikely figure of Fowler was England's captain for the second half.

And he celebrated by putting England ahead after 62 minutes after a mixture of hard work by Joe Cole and sloppy defending by Alessandro Nesta.

Cole caught Nesta in possession, and Fowler was poaching in typical predatory fashion to stab past Buffon from 12 yards.

Panucci confronts England captain Beckham
But Italy's response was instant and brilliant as they drew level within five minutes.

Montella robbed Cole in the danger area and sent a stunning drive past subsitute keeper James from 20 yards.

And Montella almost added a second after 72 minutes as he narrowly failed to latch on to Demetrio Albertini's cross.

Montella was a constant threat, and he posted the warning signals with seconds left when his header was brilliantly saved by James.

But he was not to be denied and sealed Italy's win with that dramatic penalty.


England: Martyn, Mills, Southgate, Campbell, Bridge, Beckham, Butt, Lampard, Sinclair, Heskey, Owen. Subs: Gary Neville, James, Phil Neville, Ehiogu, King, Sheringham, Hargreaves, Joe Cole, Fowler, Vassell, Wright, Murphy.

Italy: Buffon, Materazzi, Cannavaro, Nesta, Panucci, Zambrotta, Di Biagio, Doni, Zanetti, Delvecchio, Totti. Subs: Toldo, Pessotto, Iuliano, Adani, Coco, Tommasi, Albertini, Gattuso, Montella, Di Livio, Maccarone.

Referee: Herbert Fandel (Kyllburg)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Alan Green
"There was very little of positive note for England."
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
"A rather good performance against a very strong Italian team."
England Striker Robbie Fowler
"To score on my home ground was special"
Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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