There was a new-look England team for Peter Taylor's first game as coach of the national team. Out went most of the old guard, and in came many youth players, although all the players chosen to start this friendly had played in the first team on previous occasions. Despite critics saying that playing youth against Italy was not a good move for this match, Peter Taylor stood by his belief that friendlies are for experimenting. Italy fielded an almost full-strength side before a poor attendance in Turin. In addition to the fact that the England young players would be putting in 100% effort just by being given the opportunity to play for their country, the future permanent coach of England, Sven Goran Eriksson, was in the stadium to provide extra incentive to impress.
It took about ten minutes for the England team to settle in to this game and a further seven minutes before they went close to scoring. Beckham played a long ball to Heskey and the Liverpool striker's speed left Cannavaro behind, however Heskey's shot sent the ball high over Buffon's crossbar. Almost immediately Italy looked to strike back when Coco tried to break the deadlock, but James was able to prevent the goal.
After only 25 minutes on the clock, the visitors were forced to make a substitution when Butt had to leave the game following a knock and was replaced by Jamie Carragher. The change did not not unsettle England as they pressed forward, but Italy cleared a shot from Barry easily.
Heskey, again, was almost clean through with only Nesta to beat, but he touched the ball wide and the chance was gone. The first half drew to a close after a disappointing 45 minutes, however England would be pleased to have a clean sheet as they headed into the dressing room.
After a poor start to the second half, Italy made a double substitution 9 minutes into the second period with Di Biadio and Zenoni replacing Di Livio and Albertini. Di Biagio tried to make an immediate impact on the game but his shot resulted in the ball firing high over James' goal. Moments later it appeared that England should have been awarded a penalty when Gattuso lashed out at David Beckham in front of referee Puhl, but the official ignored England's plea.
The Italian involved in the incident with Beckham only one minute earlier went from almost-villan to hero as he put his country into the lead after 57 minutes of play. Escaping a red card, Gattuso went on to score a great goal from 30 yards out with a rocket of a kick which went in the net off the crossbar.
A good opportunity to pull back the one goal deficit was squandered by England just after the hour mark. Barmby took the ball to the by-line and his pass was met by Kerion Dyer who's shot was picked up by Barry, but the Villa player's shot was put out of play by Italy and the chance was gone. The referee was not helping England tonight when they should again have been awarded a penalty when Heskey was pulled down by Nesta, but again the Hungarian waved for play to continue.
Seth Johnson, making his debut, replaced Gareth Barry after 73 minutes and had a great shot saved by Buffon after connecting to Barmby's cross. Then Italy almost extended their lead when Del Piero took a superb free-kick but the crossbar saved England.
As the game drew to a close, England sent on more forwards but the efforts were not fruitful and the England team left Turin with a loss. It should be noted that England's performance against a good Italian side showed signs of encouragement for coming years with young players making their mark.
Buffon, Cannavaro, Nesta (Adani 67 mins), Maldini (Bertotto 74 mins), Di Livio (D. Zenoni 52 mins), Albertini (Di Biagio 52 mins),
Gattuso, Coco, Fiore, F Inzaghi (Del Piero 73 mins), Delvecchio (S. Inzaghi 61 mins).
Subs Not Used: Toldo, Pancaro, Pessotto, Ambrosini.
James, R Ferdinand, Southgate, Barry (Johnson 73 mins), G Neville, Beckham, Butt (Carragher 25 mins), Dyer (Fowler 83 mins), Parlour (Anderton 78 mins), Barmby, Heskey (Phillips 73 mins).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Lampard, P Neville, Ball, Robinson. (Full Squad)
Italy Goal: Gattuso (57 mins)
Referee: S Puhl (Hungary)