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Tarkowski Shines In England Draw

Late penalty controversy earns Italy 1-1 draw and denies Tarkow winning start

27 March 2018

James Tarkowski enjoyed a commanding England debut only upset by a controversial penalty decision as he added his name to the Clarets’ international hall of fame.

Tarkowski played the full 90 minutes as England drew with four-time World Cup winners Italy in a friendly at Wembley.

And the Clarets’ defender looked immediately at home on the big stage as he became the 28th Burnley player to represent England at full international level.

Tarkowski played on the left-hand side of a back three – not a natural position for the former Oldham and Brentford centre-back.

But the 25-year-old barely put a foot wrong as Gareth Southgate’s side continued their build-up to the summer’s World Cup Finals until he became an unwitting late victim of a highly debatable VAR decision.

England were leading through Jamie Vardy’s first-half strike when Tarkowksi and Ashley Young tracked Frederico Chiesa’s run into the penalty area.

Tarkowski appeared to nick the ball but German referee Deniz Aytekin referred to the video assistant referee who deemed there had been sufficient contact on the Italian substitute to award a spot-kick, which Lorenzo Insigne drilled past Jack Butland to equalise three minutes from time.

That prevented a second successive 1-0 win following last Friday night’s victory in the Netherlands for Southgate’s squad, which also included Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope for the first time, and which has just two more warm-up games once the domestic season ends to finalise his plans for Russia 2018.

Whether Tarkowski, who became the fourth Burnley player to win a first England cap in the space of less than two years following on from Tom Heaton, Michael Keane and Jack Cork, has done enough to earn a further audition and a possible place on the plane remains to be seen.

But he can have done little more to impress on his debut than he did in a performance that was a continuation of the form he has shown in establishing himself in the Premier League as a key part of Sean Dyche’s side at Turf Moor this season.

England made an uncertain start at the back but that was largely down to an error from Manchester City defender John Stones, whose slip almost gifted Ciro Immobile the opening goal.

The Lazio striker also headed wide an excellent chance to give Italy – who have failed to qualify for the World Cup – the lead.

But England were always a threat on the counter-attack. Tarkowski played his part with some excellent distribution from the back and it was his pass that led to England’s opening chance as the Burnley man picked out Jesse Lingard, who in turn released Vardy.

And even though Vardy was thwarted on that occasion and again shortly afterwards by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, it was the Leicester City man who put England ahead after 26 minutes.

The lively Raheem Sterling won a free-kick which was quickly taken by Jesse Lingard and Vardy’s finish was clinical as he rammed home his seventh England goal.

Sterling and Young went close to adding to the lead after the break before Italy almost levelled through Insigne’s angled effort.

That miss seemed to guarantee a clean sheet for Stoke City’s Butland to add to Tarkowski’s fine night’s work, which also saw him carry an attacking threat from set-plays.

If anything, the Manchester-born defender, who joined the Clarets in January, 2016 but didn’t make his first top-flight start until last April, had grown in stature in the second half with his assured presence on the ball and snuffing out of danger.

But the intervention of VAR came at the cruellest of times to deny Tarkowski a winning start to what will hopefully be a lengthy England career.

England: Butland; Walker, Stones (Henderson 73), Tarkowski; Trippier (Rose 60), Dier, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana 60), Young; Lingard (Cook 70), Vardy (Rashford 70), Sterling. Substitutes: Hart, Henderson, Maguire, Mawson, Livermore, Alli, Pickford, Pope, Welbeck.

Italy: Donnarumma, Zappacosta, Rugani, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Pellegrini (Gagliardini 79), Jorginho, Parolo, Candreva (Chiesa 56), Immobile (Belotti 65), Insigne.

Referee: Deniz Aytekin

Attendance: 82,598

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