England’s winless start to the UEFA Nations League season continued on Saturday with a goalless draw against Italy in Wolverhampton.
Italy, who had only named two starters from the XI that began their Matchday 2 match against Hungary, created the first chance three minutes in. The home backline was dissected by Lorenzo Pellegrini’s clever pass, but Davide Frattesi side-footed agonisingly wide.
Soon after, England grew in stature and rattled the goal frame, with Mason Mount curling a first-time effort that Gianluigi Donnarumma was able to tip on to the woodwork.
When attacking down the right flank, Roberto Mancini’s men looked a constant threat, and that strategy almost paid off midway through the first half. Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s low centre found Sandro Tonali, but Aaron Ramsdale made an excellent save to deflect the strike. Just before the break, Ramsdale had to be at his best to tip Matteo Pessina’s looping shot over the bar.
The second half picked up where the first left off, with Pessina and stand-in home captain Raheem Sterling both firing over from close range shortly after the restart. Despite the hosts’ introduction of Harry Kane off the bench just after the hour mark, the sides struggled to recreate the intensity of the first 45 minutes.
With 20 minutes remaining, Italy substitute Wilfried Gnonto found some space in the England area but could only find the sidenetting with his powerful shot. The visitors appeared content to avoid defeat as the game progressed, while the hosts failed to create a clear-cut opportunity to clinch all three points.
With an average age of 25 years and 126 days, Mancini named his second-youngest starting XI in his tenure (after Hungary, 25 years and 18 days). The last four meetings between these two teams were all drawn.
England has only won one of their last six UEFA Nations League games, failing to score in four of them.
(Inputs from ANI)