England youngsters beaten in Italy

08 February 2011 05:00

Manchester United striker Federico Macheda scored a late penalty as England Under-21s were defeated 1-0 in their friendly clash with Italy in Empoli.

Shortly after substitute Scott Sinclair had squandered a great chance for the visitors, Ben Mee brought down Niccolo Giannetti to concede a spot-kick with two minutes remaining.

Macheda, who is currently on loan at Sampdoria, made no mistake to deal England a blow in their preparations for this summer's European Under-21 Championship in Denmark.

Manager Stuart Pearce, who saw his squad severely weakened by withdrawals, handed a debut to Middlesbrough defender Joe Bennett while 17-year-old Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran made his first start.

A quiet start to the match took a worrying turn for England and particularly Everton after little over 10 minutes when Jack Rodwell appeared to suffer a groin problem and was replaced by Jack Cork.

The only clear-cut chance of the first half fell to Ciro Ferrara's Italy as Gianvito Misuraca found space behind the England defence but Frank Fielding got down well to push his shot around the post.

With an hour gone, Pearce, who celebrated his fourth anniversary as manager on Sunday, made a triple substitution, giving debuts to Jonny Howson, Jay Rodriguez and Alex Chamberlain in place of James Vaughan, Henri Lansbury and Nathan Delfouneso.

Highly-rated Southampton youngster Chamberlain made an immediate impact with a run and fizzing cross along the six-yard line but none of his team-mates could get on the end of it.

Sinclair came on for Albrighton with quarter of an hour remaining, and the Swansea winger should have put England ahead with nine minutes left. An excellent through-ball from McEachran found the former Chelsea youngster in acres of space but he shot straight at goalkeeper Carlo Pinsoglio, who then produced another good save from the same player at his near post.

Having stepped up the pace, though, England conceded the only goal of the game in the 88th minute. Substitute Giannetti ran in behind Manchester City defender Mee, who clearly brought down the striker and was promptly shown a red card, with Macheda easily beating Fielding from the penalty spot.

Source: PA