England Women’s U-23s held to draw by Italy

Italy v England Womens U23 European League
Katie Robinson of England competes for the ball with Valentina Gallazzi of Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

England women’s U-23s were held to a 1-1 draw by Italy at the Stadio Silvio Piola in Vercelli on Thursday evening in their first of two games this month.

Emma Coates’ Young Lionesses took a first-half lead only for Italy to peg them back after the break to set up a thrilling, end-to-end finish to the game.

Ultimately, a draw was the fair result and both teams will take a point apiece in the fledgling Euro League campaign.

The hosts made a bright start on the front foot, but with few chances to show for it, England began to find their feet in the contest.

After 20 minutes, some great work on the right saw as Ebony Salmon combine with right-back Ella Morris, whose powerful cross towards goal was clawed clear by keeper Camilla Forcinella.

Two minutes later, Ruby Mace tried her luck from distance, her shot was on target but well saved by Forcinella.

It was just after the half-hour mark when the Young Lionesses took the lead, with Emma Harries closing down a ball in the box which broke to Pattinson on the left. She fired in a shot, which took a deflection over the ‘keeper and into the far corner.

Italy v England: Women's U23 European League
Alice Corelli of Italy competes for the ball with Poppy Pattinson of England. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

And it was almost 2-0 just before the break when Grant fired in a brilliant effort from 20 yards which looked to be dipping into the far corner only to clip the top of the bar and go over.

But Italy also had their first real opportunity of the game when Margariti Monnecchi cut inside from the right only to see her low shot saved by Kayla Rendell.

Both teams approached the second half with attacking intent and England had a half-chance through captain Missy Bo Kearns, before the hosts started to exert their authority on the game.

And their increasing pressure eventually paid off, as Alice Correlli equalised just after the hour-mark. It was a classic centre forward’s goal too, as she controlled a cross on her chest before turning her marker and firing a low shot into the bottom corner past Rendell.

With both teams sensing the opportunity to win, substitute Aggie Beever-Jones looked to respond immediately but her shot was well saved before Italy had two opportunities of their own without troubling Rendell.

The final ten minutes saw the game really pick up, with Italy building up some late pressure with Rendell and her defence remaining firm until England upped the ante in the five minutes of stoppage time.

And Katie Robinson came closest as her cross-shot from the right floated over the ‘keeper only to bounce back off the post with Jessica Naz shooting a tricky rebound over.

England kept going and Italy were forced into some desperate defending as both Beever Jones and Laura Blindkilde Brown saw efforts blocked.

The team next welcome Portugal to the Joie Stadium, home of Manchester City, on Monday 30 October (7pm GMT), with tickets still on sale priced at just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.

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