England stay winless after Italy draw, Germany held by Hungary

Published June 13, 2022
WOLVERHAMPTON: England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale saves a shot from Italy’s Matteo Pessina during their Nations League match at the Molineux Stadium.—Reuters
WOLVERHAMPTON: England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale saves a shot from Italy’s Matteo Pessina during their Nations League match at the Molineux Stadium.—Reuters

PARIS: England are bottom of their UEFA Nations League A, group 3 without a win after drawing 0-0 with Italy in a repeat of the Euro 2020 final at a near-empty Molineux on Saturday, while Germany settled for a point in a 1-1 stalemate in Hungary.

The meeting in Wolverhampton between Gareth Southgate’s side and the European champions was played before just 3,000 people, largely school-children, as a punishment for the incidents that marred the Euro 2020 final between the same nations at Wembley last year.

UEFA rules say a match ordered to be played behind closed doors can still be attended by children accompanied by an adult, as happened last weekend when Hungary beat England in Budapest.

England followed that reverse by drawing 1-1 in Germany and another draw at Molineux leaves them with just two points from three outings before they host Hungary at the same venue on Tuesday in their final game of a long campaign.

England’s Aaron Ramsdale was the busier of the two keepers, with crucial saves in the first half to deny Sandro Tonali and Matteo Pessina as Italy cut through England’s defence.

With Harry Kane left on the bench until the 65th minute, England lacked attacking spark and the closest they came to scoring was Mason Mount’s first-half shot against the bar.

Raheem Sterling wasted a glorious opportunity after the break but England did not do enough to earn the win.

“We had two or three really good chances we need to score, but just lacked that sharpness in front of goal,” said Southgate.

Roberto Mancini’s Italy are rebuilding after failing to qualify for the World Cup and are top of the group after Hungary and Germany cancelled each other out in Budapest.

Puskas Arena soon erupted with ear-splitting noise when Hungary’s wing-back Zsolt Nagy gave them an early lead, blasted home from close range after Manuel Neuer had palmed out a Roland Sallai header.

But the home crowd’s delight was shortlived as Hofmann pounced on a through ball by David Raum minutes later, rounded Peter Gulacsi and finished into an empty net for the equaliser.

Slick Germany posed the greater danger with Chelsea’s Kai Havertz steering a header from Raum wide before the impressive Hoffenheim winger sailed a curler round Gulacsi’s right post.

“I said beforehand that this was the hardest game you could have after England,” Germany coach Hansi Flick told RTL after his side’s third consecutive 1-1 draw.

“But we are in a development process. We have to see that we learn the lessons from this game.”

DEPAY MISSES LATE PENALTY

The Netherlands are top of League A, Group 4 after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Poland in Rotterdam, but they could have claimed a third win in as many games had Memphis Depay not squandered a late penalty.

English-born full-back Matty Cash gave Poland an 18th-minute lead with a fine low strike, and the visitors doubled their advantage five minutes after half-time as Przemyslaw Frankowski squared for Piotr Zielinski to finish.

Yet the home side pulled one back almost immediately when Daley Blind’s cross from the left was swept in by Davy Klaassen, and they were level by the 54th minute as Denzel Dumfries made it 2-2.

They could have won it in stoppage time when Cash was penalised in the box, but Barcelona forward Depay saw his spot-kick come back off the post.

Meanwhile Brennan Johnson — a star for Nottingham Forest as they won promotion to the Premier League this season — came off the bench to score a late leveller as Wales drew 1-1 with Belgium in Cardiff.

Youri Tielemans gave Belgium the lead early in the second half in Cardiff, but Wales earned their first point of the Nations League campaign.

Their attention had previously been on their decisive World Cup qualifying play-off against Ukraine, which they won 1-0 last weekend to qualify for the global showpiece for the first time since 1958.

Wales now travel to play the Netherlands in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

In League B, the Republic of Ireland got their first win in Group 1 in emphatic fashion, beating hapless Scotland 3-0 in Dublin.

Alan Browne and Troy Parrott netted in the first half for Ireland before Michael Obafemi smashed in an emphatic third early in the second half.

In the same group Ukraine got their second win in as many games since losing to Wales, as they beat Armenia 3-0 in a match played in the Polish city of Lodz.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2022

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