If You Know Your History!
Past Encounters: England v Italy

England’s last meeting with Italy ended in dire disappointment at Euro 2012.

Roy Hodgson’s side were outplayed for much of the game but managed to hang on to have a chance of stealing victory in a penalty shoot-out – but yet again failed when it came to spot kicks.

Here are nine other significant encounters down the years;

1934 – England 3-2 Italy, Highbury

Italy turned up in London fresh from their World Cup triumph on home soil earlier that year. England had refused to participate in that tournament but retained a fierce reputation so the match was billed as a clash to decide who was the best team in the world. The contest that was dubbed the Battle of Highbury proved anything but decisive. A famously violent affair, England – with seven Arsenal players in their line-up – did defeat the Italians. But with no substitutions permitted, Italy were forced to play much of the game with 10 men after Luis Monti was injured early on as a result of a crunching clash with England goalscorer Ted Drake.

1961 – Italy 2-3 England, Rome

This remains England’s most recent victory over the Azzurri on Italian soil. The Three Lions boasted the likes of Bobby Robson and Bobby Charlton in the ranks but were 2-1 down to an Italy side that included Giovanni Trapattoni. A second goal from Gerry Hitchens and a late winner from Jimmy Greaves turned the game around for the visitors, with both players completing moves to Serie A that summer. Highlights are below;

1973 – England 0-1 Italy, Wembley

Back in the 1970s a victory over England at Wembley could put Italy in an exclusive club. Outside of the British Isles, only four countries had beaten the English in front of their own supporters. Italy’s victory at the home of football saw them become the fifth. With just five minutes remaining, Giorgio Chinaglia beat Bobby Moore and crossed for the future England manager Fabio Capello to fire the ball past Peter Shilton.

1977 – England 2-0 Italy, Wembley

England and Italy were paired together in qualification for the 1978 World Cup. It was a tough draw given that only one side could qualify. The other two nations in a four-team group – Finland and Luxembourg – were both pummelled leaving England vulnerable following a 2-0 defeat to Italy earlier in the group. They had to beat Italy convincingly at Wembley and hope goal difference would go in their favour. Goals from Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking secured the points but it wasn’t enough for Ron Greenwood’s side and a 3-0 win for the Italians against Luxembourg the following month saw England miss out.

1980 – Italy 1-0 England, Turin

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Captains Keegan and Zoff shake hands

England went to Euro ’80 with a squad full of winners. Thanks to the success of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on the continent, the players possessed an astonishing 19 European Cup winners’ medals between them. But an opening draw against Belgium put Greenwood’s men under pressure to beat Italy on their own turf. With Trevor Francis unavailable through injury and Keegan flagging after a long season, England’s hopes were dashed by a late Marco Tardelli goal.

1990 – Italy 2-1 England, Bari

Both teams had suffered penalty shootout heartbreak in the semi-finals but it was Italy who claimed third place. A shocking error from Peter Shilton, in his final appearance for England, allowed Roberto Baggio to open the scoring in the second-half. Tony Dorigo crossed for David Platt to head home his third goal of the tournament but, after Paul Parker hauled down Salvatore Schillachi just before the end, the Italy striker made no mistake from the spot.

1997 – England 0-1 Italy, Wembley

Glenn Hoddle’s gamble of selecting Matt Le Tissier was leaked to the media ahead of the game and the spotlight was firmly on the mercurial Southampton forward in the build-up to this World Cup qualifier. Instead it was the diminutive Chelsea man Gianfranco Zola who took centre-stage for the visitors, beating David Seaman’s deputy Ian Walker at his near post early on. The Italians held on to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the following year’s World Cup.

1997 – Italy 0-2 England, Nantes

Le Tournoi in France was the preparatory tournament for the 1998 World Cup – in many ways a forerunner to the Confederations Cup. Hosts France invited England and the two finalists from the previous World Cup, Brazil and Italy, to play in a round-robin contest. The tournament is remembered chiefly for an outrageous free-kick by Roberto Carlos but it was England who won the competition – thanks in part to goals from Ian Wright and Paul Scholes in an impressive victory over the Italians.

1997 – Italy 0-0 England, Rome

England had surrendered the advantage in Group 2 of World Cup qualifying after the aforementioned Wembley defeat to Italy. But goalless draws for the Italians in Poland and Georgia had handed the initiative back to Hoddle’s team. As a result, a draw would be sufficient in Rome for England to guarantee their place at France ’98 and consign Italy to a play-off place. The Three Lions produced one of their more composed displays to fend off the Italians with Paul Ince taking the plaudits after playing on with a visible head injury.

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Beckham, Ince and Gazza celebrate qualification for France ’98

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