Defoe goal tinged with sadness

16 August 2012 06:47

Jermain Defoe dedicated his England match-winning goal to his cousin who died in a freak accident in St Lucia last month.

Defoe's 80th-minute strike secured a 2-1 win over Italy in Berne as Roy Hodgson handed five players their debuts and said he was "pleased" with the outcome.

But Defoe said his strike was tinged with sadness as it would have been Hannah Defoe's 21st birthday on Wednesday. "That goal was for my cousin who died in St Lucia," said Defoe. "It would have been her birthday today."

Hodgson's side showed plenty of spirit to recover after Daniele de Rossi had put the Euro 2012 runners-up ahead. Phil Jagielka equalised before the break and after substitute goalkeeper John Ruddy had made three excellent saves, Defoe belted home from 20 yards.

"It was spectacular, a great way to win the game," said Hodgson. "That is his forte, something he can do. He does it regularly for Tottenham and it was nice to see him doing it for England."

Defoe now has 16 international goals and England have a new youngest goalkeeper after Jack Butland started. But Ruddy did more to further his claims to be regarded as Joe Hart's deputy.

And with Michael Carrick producing a quietly effective effort on his return to the England fold, Gary Cahill producing a decent display in central defence and all those young players gaining valuable experience, the game proved to be a worthwhile exercise for Hodgson ahead of next month's opening World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

"I'm pleased," he said. "It was the type of game I sort of expected; two teams with a lot of changes looking to make a big impression ahead of the qualification campaign. I am happy with the way we responded to that challenge and the performance we gave.

"It's the qualifiers that really count, but it's nice to know we have a deeper squad of players than that we took to the Euros."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli also branded the contest a success, despite the result, highlighting the performance of striker Mattia Destro in particular as a reason for optimism. He said: "We have seen some young players who can be the future of the national team. Mattia Destro showed he can play in the national team now."

Source: PA

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