Football: The Italian jobs: Key confrontations of the past

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1948: Italy 0 England 4

Turin, 16 May. Friendly

THE England forward line was Matthews, Mortensen, Lawton, Mannion and Finney, arguably the most talented ever to wear the badge. After four minutes Matthews carved a 40-yard pass to Mortensen who curled in an astounding shot from near the goal-line. Italy revived inventively, as if rehearsing the football which, in later years, would expose England's direct approach. Twice they were denied goals for off-side, then Lawton struck from Mortensen's cross and England strolled home, Mannion setting up Finney for two more. It would never be so comfortable again.

1952: Italy 1 England 1

Florence, 18 May. Friendly.

THE memory of England's finest performance in Italy had faded. The increasingly important measure of ability, the World Cup, had emphasised that football had changed and England's traditional strengths were no longer likely to be successful against defensively minded, technically more skilful teams. England took the lead in only the fourth minute when Ivor Broadis made a brave run to overcome several tough tackles, scoring with a low drive. Italy equalised following a misdirected clearance by the goalkeeper, Gil Merrick. England had been warned.

1961: Italy 2 England 3

Rome, 24 May. Friendly.

AFTER being left behind in technique, England had a surge of confidence - six successive wins including 11 goals by Jimmy Greaves. There was no hint of the difficulties to come in the 1962 World Cup, which would end the reign of Walter Winterbottom. Gerry Hitchens, later of Internazionale, scored after 39 minutes but Sivori equalised. The Italian goalkeeper, Buffon, saved from Greaves and Hitchens but went off after diving at the feet of Johnny Haynes. Even so, Brighenti took Italy ahead before Hitchens scored again. Greaves, almost inevitably, got the winner.

1973: Italy 2 England 0

Turin, 14 June. Friendly.

THIS was the first of two defeats by Italy in one year - the second was at Wembley in November, by which time Poland had ended England qualifying hopes for the 1974 World Cup and signalled Sir Alf Ramsey's demise. The match was a combined celebration of the Italian federation's 75th anniversary and Bobby Moore's English record 107th appearance. It was Italy's first victory over England. Their defence was unforgiving while England's faltered. A clearance from Peter Shilton rebounded to Anastasi who shot through Moore's legs. Capello added a second in the second half.

1976: Italy 2 England 0

Rome, 17 Nov. World Cup qualifier.

DON REVIE suffered only seven defeats in his 29 games in charge, but none was more damaging than this. The comparison in team selections told the story. Italy included seven Juventus players. Revie made six changes. England played like strangers and lost hope of going to Argentina. Causio's short free-kick displaced the defence after 36 minutes, leaving Antognoni to score. England began to haul themselves back but fine inter-passing by Benetti and Causio ended with Benetti's centre aimed perfectly for Bettega's head. All three players came from Juventus.

1980: Italy 1 England 0

Turin, 15 June. European Championship.

BEFORE the European finals began, Ron Greenwood's teams had lost only three times in 29 games. The basis of success was the natural telepathy between Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking allied to Greenwood's consistent selection policy which, curiously, he broke on this occasion by playing the inexperienced Gary Birtles. It was an experiment that failed. Italy played hard, competitive football. England fell to a fine goal by Tardelli but their problems were founded on the staleness of Keegan, who had endured a long season in Germany.

1990: Italy 2 England 1

Bari, 7 July. World Cup play-off.

ONLY after he was hounded out was Bobby Robson appreciated. He took England to the verge of the World Cup final and since Italy had suffered similarly, it was presumed that the play-off would be sterile. It turned out to be one of the best games of the tournament. Shilton saved brilliantly from Schillaci but in the second half he had the ball stolen from him by Baggio, who avoided the rest of the defence to score. David Platt compensated with a wonderful header but Paul Parker gave away a penalty, bringing down Schillaci who scored.

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