England come from behind to seal Italy draw

Towsend's screamer secured England's leveller

Towsend’s screamer secured England’s leveller


A much changed England team produced a stirring second half performances to snatch a draw against Italy, with Tottenham's Andros Townsend scoring a sensational leveller with just 11 minutes left to play.

Harry Kane – who made his first England start in Turin - made a big impact after his introduction from the bench against Lithuania, but on Tuesday night it was his Spurs team-mate who stole the limelight this time.

Nine minutes after coming off the bench, Townsend drove a fierce 20-yard drive past Gianluigi Buffon to earn England a creditable draw at the Juventus Stadium.

Southampton's Graziano Pelle scored Italy's opener, but there was no doubt that England deserved a draw in the final analysis on a night when they missed the chances to secure a victory.

“I think we deserved to win it in the end,” Rooney told ITV Sport. “We had the better chances.

"Italy were the better team in the first half, partly because of ourselves because we didn’t put enough pressure on the ball and we let them have it too easily.

“Second half we came out and dominated. We created chances and could have won the game. Italy away, so it’s not a disastrous result and it keeps us on an unbeaten run since last summer, so we have to be happy after that first half performance.

“It was important to keep the unbeaten run going. We know this is a friendly game and we are missing a lot of players, but it was a good chance for the players that came in to give the manager something to think about.

“The first half was not what we had planned and we had to react second half and we have done that and we could have won the game. We have to see this in a positive way as it was a good result in the end.”

Hodgson reserved special praise for his substitutes Ross Barkley and Townsend, as they had a big impact on the game after coming off the bench.

“Barkley and Townsend really turned the game,” Hodgson stated. “I thought Barkley, in particular was really, really good. Very brave, very courageous, prepared to get on the ball all the time, prepared to take people on.

“He really is an outstanding young talent and it has been great that we had him for these two games, giving him 20 minutes in the first game [against Lithuania last Friday] and almost a half here.

“I also have to say a word for Andros. That is the second time he has come on when we needed someone to do something special and he has come up with the good.

“It is no mean feat to come to Italy and get a result, especially to take the game to them like we did in the second half. We are indebted to Andros. We had chances before his goal, but it was his strike that got us the draw.”

Townsend responded to his goal with this tweet directed at Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who had suggested the Spurs winger did not deserved to be in the England squad. 

Not bad for a player that should be 'nowhere near the squad' ay @PaulMerse ?

Belgium win as Portugal are humiliated

English referee Mark Clattenberg sent off Belgium's Vincent Kompany

English referee Mark Clattenberg sent off Belgium’s Vincent Kompany

A Portugal side missing Cristiano Ronaldo were shocked 2-0 by African islanders Cape Verde in Estoril, on a night when Belgium boosted their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes with a tight win in Israel.

Belgium survived a red card to captain Vincent Kompany as Marouane Fellaini's early goal was enough to beat Israel in their Euro 2016 qualifier in Jerusalem, as they kept pace with Wales in qualifying Group B.

The standout result in the friendly matches saw Portugal slide to a horrible defeat against Cape Verde, with Odair Fortes and Gege scoring the Blue Sharks' goals before half-time and the dismissal of Portugal defender Andre Pinto on the hour mark made a comeback even more unlikely. It would not materialise.

Meanwhile, Spain failed to avenge their World Cup humiliation by Holland as they fell to a 2-0 defeat in Amsterdam.

The Oranje hammered Vicente del Bosque's men 5-1 in the group stages back in Brazil and got the former world champions on the ropes again, with Stefan de Vrij and Davy Klaassen both notching inside the first 16 minutes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 54th goal in 103 appearances for Sweden as the Scandinavians downed Iran 3-1 at the Friends Arena.

The Paris St Germain striker headed home an opener before turning provider for Marcus Berg. A penalty from Javad Nekounam reduced the deficit but Sebastian Larsson rubber-stamped victory at the death.

Andy Murray secures landmark win in Miami

Murray was presented with a cake after his 500th win

Murray was presented with a cake after his 500th win

Britain’s Andy Murray racked up his 500th career win by beating Kevin Anderson over three sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Miami Open.

The third-seeded Scot needed a little over two hours to dispatch the South African 6-4 3-6 6-3, passing an important personal milestone while making the last eight of a competition which has seen Rafael Nadal make an early exit.

Murray fired down two aces in response to Anderson's 11, with his first serve malfunctioning as he surrendered the second set before rallying to end the world number 17's challenge in Florida.

The British number one will next face 21-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem, who ousted Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (7/5) 4-6 7-5 earlier on Tuesday.

After becoming the ninth active player and 46th man in the Open Era to join the '500 Club', Murray told Sky Sports News: "There's not a whole lot of people who've made it to 500 so it's quite nice to do that.

"I've put in a lot of hard yards and done a lot of work here. I hope it's not the last win and I hope there are a few more in my career.

"I have a certain number in mind before I finish my career and hopefully my body can hold up."

Despite his second-set wobble, Murray – the current world number four – was able to triumph in the decider by converting on four of 11 break opportunities.

Dortmund chief: No Hummels talks with Man Utd

Hummels continues to be linked with United (image adapted by @Wicknes007)

Hummels continues to be linked with United (image adapted by @Wicknes007)

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has confirmed that defender Mats Hummels is considering his future at the club, but he insists Manchester United have yet to make a formal offer for the defender.

Watzke confirmed that Hummels is weighing up a move this summer, but he insisted no official bid has yet to be lodged by United.

"Mats has a contract with us until June 2017 and we have not received any offers for him yet, so we are relaxed," Watzkee told Bild.

"He had a conversation with sporting director Michael Zorc two weeks ago. Mats informed us that he is thinking about his future and there is nothing wrong with that."

Hummels father Hermann is reported to be friend of United boss Van Gaal from when they both worked at Bayern Munich, which could ease the move through for all parties.

Meanwhile, German publication Bild have printed a quote from Hummels in which he states he has always had a desire to play for United, in a comments that are believed to be have been made some time ago.

"If I was to transfer abroad at some stage, then it would only be to Manchester United," Hummels is reported to have said.

What seems increasingly clear is that Hummels Dortmund career is coming to an end, with United the clear front runners to secure his signature next summer.

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Arsenal bid to sign £30m Palermo striker Paulo Dybala

Paulo Dybala on Arsenal's transfer radar

Paulo Dybala on Arsenal’s transfer radar

Arsenal have made a bid to sign Palermo striker Paulo Dybala, the Italian club’s President has confirmed.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has identified 21-year-old Dybala has one of the rising stars of the world game, with his eagerness to keep a youthful influence in his squad making this starlet one of his top summer targets. 

Now Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has confirmed Arsenal are among the clubs who have made a move for Dybala.

"Juventus and Arsenal have already made offers for the boy,” Zamparini told Radio Marte Sport. “(Pierpaolo) Triulzi, his agent, will be in Italy on Friday."

“Juventus? Yes, that could happen. I’m speaking to their director Giuseppe Marotta and I know he’s interested but he needs to hurry up as I have other teams after him.

“After Easter I will speak to Dybala’s agent, who is working well for the player’s future. It’s 50-50 whether he will stay in Italy. I have already had two firm offers of £22m from foreign clubs, but I’m looking for £30m.”

Arsenal and Wenger are unlikely to be pleased that Zamparini has made their interest in the player so public, with the Gunners preferring to do their transfer business with a little more secrecy. 

Yet it now seems clear that Wenger is eager to shake up his forward line ahead of next season, even though he has previously stated he has enough attacking talent in his squad with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott among his options.

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