Manchester United striker Federico Macheda scored a late penalty as England Under-21s were defeated in their friendly with Italy in Empoli yesterday. 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 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, whose squad was weakened by withdrawals, handed a debut to the Middlesbrough defender Joe Bennett while the 17-year-old Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran made his first start. Everton striker James Vaughan made his first appearance for nearly 18 months.
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 but Frank Fielding pushed his shot around the post.
Alex Chamberlain came on in the second half and made an immediate impact with a run and fizzing cross along the six-yard line which none of his team-mates could get on the end of.
An excellent through-ball from McEachran found Sinclair 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 in the 88th minute. Giannetti ran in behind Mee, who brought down the striker and was shown a red card, with Macheda easily beating Fielding from the spot.
England U21 Fielding, Naughton, Bennett, Rodwell (Cork, 12), Mee, Muamba, Albrighton (Sinclair, 73), Lansbury (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 60), McEachran (Trippier 83), Vaughan (Rodriguez, 60), Delfouneso (Howson, 60). Substitutes not used Loach, Steele.