• England U21s 0-1 Italy U21s

Classy Insigne punishes England youngsters

ESPN staff
June 5, 2013
Lorenzo Insigne celebrated his strike wildly © PA Photos

A well-taken free-kick from Lorenzo Insigne condemned England to an opening 1-0 defeat to Italy at the European Under-21 Championship, in a game where Craig Dawson had a goal disallowed in confusing circumstances.

Insigne, perhaps the classiest player on display throughout the match in Israel, won the contest with a curling free-kick midway through the second half - punishing Stuart Pearce's men, who thought they had taken the lead when Dawson headed home from a corner after half-time.

However, after initially signalling for a goal, the referee suddenly changed his mind - although television replays could not clarify the reason for the decision.

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 spot-kick 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. Insigne, his side's best player, struck home the resulting free-kick to secure a 1-0 victory and end England's record unbeaten streak and run of 889 minutes without conceding.

Earlier, hosts Israel were denied by an injury-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw with ten-man Norway.

Harmeet Singh found the bottom corner from outside the area in the 91st minute to ensure his side took a share of the spoils.

The teams had been level at half-time, with Israel taking the lead through their captain, Nir Biton, who converted a 16th-minute penalty, before Marcus Pedersen hit back for Tor Ole Skullerud's side.

However, Vegar Hedenstad was shown the red card before the break, and the hosts looked to have clinched victory at the Netanya Stadium when substitute Alon Turgeman struck in the 71st minute, but Singh was to have the final word.

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