Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Disputed Decision Ends Run of Wins; Young Lions Cruelly Denied Goal

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Disputed Decision Ends Run of Wins; Young Lions Cruelly Denied Goal

Article excerpt

England Under-21s 0 Italy Under-21s 1 ENGLAND Under-21s' ninematch winning streak was brought to a controversial end last night as Italy capitalised on the confusion surrounding Craig Dawson's disallowed goal to win their European Championship opener.

Having held the impressive Azzurrini at bay in the first half, the West Brom centre-back looked to have nodded the Young Lions ahead four minutes after the restart of the Group A clash in Tel Aviv.

England players ran off in celebration, the announcer gave the goal and even put Dawson's face on the Bloomfield Stadium scoreboard - only for referee Antony Gautier to chalk the header off to mass confusion.

An apparent push by Steven Caulker in the build-up looked to be behind the decision that left Stuart Pearce's side flabbergasted.

It was not Gautier's only contentious decision of the night. He waved away first-half penalty appeals from Alessandro Florenzi, before appearing to inexplicably change his mind on a spotkick with less than 15 minutes remaining.

The Frenchman eventually adjudged Nathaniel Clyne's foul on substitute Manolo Gabbiadini to be outside the box but Italy's frustration soon turned to joy.

Lorenzo Insigne, the Azzurrini's best player, struck home the resulting freekick to secure a 1-0 victory and end England's record unbeaten streak and run of 889 minutes without conceding.

Much of the talk in the build-up surrounded the fitness of Wilfried Zaha, who was only fit enough for the bench after an ankle complaint.

Winger Nathan Redmond made his debut in the absence of the injured Zaha and suspended Thomas Ince, while Jack Robinson deputised for former Sunderland defender Danny Rose, serving a one-match ban, at leftback.

England's early pressing caused the Azzurrini problems and Black Cats striker Connor Wickham tested goalkeeper Francesco Bardi from close range after Marvin Sordell charged down a clearance.

The Italians, considered favourites for Group A by Pearce, soon kicked into gear, though.

Ciro Immobile was inches away from netting a 10th-minute opener when he beat Dawson to a through ball and sent a half-volley just wide.

Moments later, Italy had another chance. Immobile played through Luca Marrone down the left and he sent a cross to the back post, where Florenzi's goalbound strike was blocked by Robinson.

Devis Mangia's side were on the front foot by this point and England's nerves were epitomised by right-back Clyne, who had to race back to clear his own wayward back header to Jack Butland.

A heavy touch prevented Jonjo Shelvey getting a shot away when they returned to the attack, before Insigne struck just wide.

The Napoli winger was proving Italy's biggest threat and came close again in the 24th minute, playing a neat onetwo with Immobile before delicately lifting the ball over Butland and, fortunately for England, the crossbar. …

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