England played out a 0-0 draw with Italy on Saturday night, extending their winless run in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League to three matches.
Both sides had chances to shade the game but poor finishing and impressive goalkeeping ensured that the 3,000 schoolchildren in attendance at Molineux trudged home without witnessing a goal. The result also meant that the Three Lions failed to avenge their Euro 2020 final defeat.
The visitors really should have taken the lead inside two minutes. A clever move allowed Davide Frattesi to be slipped in, but the Sassuolo midfielder placed his effort from inside the box the wrong side of the post.
Not long after, Mason Mount was teed up by Raheem Sterling but the midfielder’s shot rattled the bar. Declan Rice then met James Ward-Prowse’s corner at the front post, but his first-time volley sailed into the empty stand.
Just before the half-hour mark Aaron Ramsdale was forced to make a great save from Sandro Tonali. Giovanni Di Lorenzo put in a one-touch cross on the volley and the Milan man tried to pass it home, only to be denied by the legs of England’s stand-in stopper.
Italy had the final chances of the first half with Gianluca Scamacca swiveling at the front post and Ramsdale again coming to the rescue, before Matteo Pessina’s shot was tipped over and Locatelli’s volley was held.
England came out stronger after the interval and Sterling should have tapped home Reece James’ wicked cross at the back post, but instead put his shot well over.
Just after the hour Italy did threaten the England goal when Lorenzo Pellegrini found Di Lorenzo’s run at the back post. However, the defender could not bundled the ball home.
These sights of goal was the exception not the rule in the second half though, with both teams running out of ideas in the final third.
Not even the introduction of 50-goal striker Harry Kane could spark this one into life, with the game sleepwalking towards a goalless draw.
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 7/10 – Made a couple of important saves in the first half when Italy were really threatening.
Reece James (RB) – 6/10 – His positioning was a little suspect in the first half. Swung in one superb ball in the second half that should have be rewarded with an assist.
Harry Maguire (CB) – 7/10 – A pretty steady display considering it was the first time he’d started alongside his centre-back partner.
Fikayo Tomori (CB) – 6/10 – A shaky start but did make a vital block just before the break. More comfortable in the second period.
Kieran Trippier (LB) – 5/10 – Did not always time his tackles well, committing a couple of fouls in the first half. We did not see the best of him going forward.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 5/10 – Struggled to keep tabs on Italy’s runners early on. Kept hold of the ball well.
Declan Rice (CM) – 6/10 – Fared better at preventing Italy’s late runs between the lines. Taken off on the hour to rest his legs.
Raheem Sterling (RW) – 4/10 – Missed a golden opportunity in the second half. Made the right runs at times but finishing was poor.
Mason Mount (AM) – 4/10 – Rattled the crossbar in the first half and perhaps should have scored. Lacked a clinical edge throughout.
Jack Grealish (LW) – 5/10 – One of the only England players to make things happen in the first half. Faded after the break.
Tammy Abraham (ST) – 5/10 – Pressed well from the front, forcing Donnarumma into some errors. Starved of service, aside from one clumsy effort in the first half.
SUB: Kalvin Phillips (CM) – 6/10 – No spills but few thrills.
SUB: Jarrod Bowen (AM) – 6/10 – Added impetus almost immediately.
SUB: Harry Kane (ST) – 6/10 – England’s get out of jail free card could not find the winner.
SUB: Bukayo Saka (RW) – N/A
SUB: Marc Guehi (CB) – N/A
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK) – 5/10 – Nearly gifted England a goal with a wayward pass early on. Rarely forced to make a save.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo (RB) – 7/10 – Pushed forward to great effect and nearly assisted Tonali in the first half.
Federico Gatti (CB) – 7/10 – Made his international debut and picked up a booking to mark the occasion. Fared well considering he played in Italy’s second tier this season.
Francesco Acerbi (CB) – 7/10 – Helped his less experienced colleague navigated his maiden cap.
Federico Dimarco (LB) – 6/10 – Showed his nous with some smart defending against Sterling.
Davide Frattesi (CM) – 6/10 – Missed a great chance early on. Continued to cause England problems with his runs from midfield into the box throughout.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – 6/10 – Booked in the first half for a clumsy foul. Provided the sturdy base for those flanking him in midfield to burst forward.
Sandro Tonali (CM) – 6/10 – Denied a goal after a lung-busting run by Ramsdale early in the second half.
Matteo Pessina (RW) – 5/10 – Presented with a few half-chances that he failed to take.
Gianluca Scamacca (ST) – 6/10 – Linked things attractively. Would make a brilliant signing for a lucky club this summer.
Lorenzo Pellegrini (LW) – 7/10 – Italy’s brightest spark. Always brave when he got the ball and carved out chances.
SUB: Wilfried Gnoto (LW) – 5/10 – Little impact.
SUB: Salvatore Esposito (CM) – 5/10 – As above.