Sven Goran Eriksson had wanted to field one of his possible World Cup sides in this friendly, however a number of injuries to players prior to the game prevented him from doing this. Instead, most players in the England training camp on this occasion had the opportunity to earn another cap as the coach used the opportunity to view more partnerships and playing styles.
It has to be said, that this was not the most exciting game to watch. Italy for the most part played their first string players were disappointing, and England were no better. The first half of play was dull and not worth mentioning! England's only real chance of the first 45 minutes was when Campbell deflected a mis-hit shot by Owen which the Italian goalkeeper, Buffon, had to put over the crossbar. Italy only put Martyn to the test late in the first half when he had to make a save from Zambrotta.
England made nine substitutions at the start of the second half, Robbie Fowler took over as captain from David Beckham. Italy only made one change to their starting line-up at the interval. The captain put England in the lead after 63 minutes when Fowler scored on his home turf. Italy quickly equalised through Montella when Ashley Cole made an error just outside England's penalty area, and the Italian took advantage, putting the ball into the top corner.
Italy almost got the match winner in the final minute but David James made a diving save to stop Montella's header. However, James brought down Maccarone (who scored in the under-21 game the previous night) in the penalty box a moment later and Italy secured a win at Elland Road by scoring the resulting penalty.
This was only Eriksson's second defeat since taking charge of England, and under the circumstances (injuries, trying out players etc), he won't lose any sleep over the result.
Martyn (James 46 mins), Mills (P Neville 46 mins), Southgate (Ehiogu 46 mins), Campbell (King 46 mins), Bridge (G Neville 86 mins),
Beckham (Murphy 46 mins), Butt (Hargreaves 46 mins), Lampard (J Cole 46 mins), Sinclair (Sheringham 70 mins), Heskey (Fowler 46 mins), Owen (Vassell 46 mins).
Subs Not Used: Wright. (Full Squad)
Buffon, Materazzi (Iuliano 57 mins), Cannavaro, Nesta (Adani 82 mins), Panucci (Coco 74 mins), Zambrotta, Di Biagio (Gattuso 57 mins),
Doni (Tommasi 74 mins), Zanetti (Albertini 57 mins), Delvecchio (Maccarone 74 mins), Totti (Montella 46 mins).
Subs Not Used: Toldo, Pessotto, Di Livio.
England Goal: Fowler (63 mins)
Italy Goals: Montella (67 & 90 (pen) mins)
England Cautions: Heskey, James
Italy Caution: Nesta
Referee: Herbert Fandel (Kyllburg)