Match Report: Italy v England Friendly (Sat 24th May 1969)
The Football Association committee accepted an invitation from Italy for a friendly match to be played at the Stadio Comunale in Turin.
The England fans invaded the northern Italian city of Torino in their droves, on the trains, in their coaches and vans, their Mini’s, Land Rovers. Any transportation they could find.
The game itself nearly didn’t take place after a power cut the night before, but the authorities managed to restore electricity within an hour.
England manager Alf Ramsey gave ’66 veteran Gordon Banks a rest and Peter Bonetti from Chelsea started in his place.
Even though his favoured spot is defensively midfield, Ramsey once again put Emlyn Hughes in the left back role. Making up the rest of the back four were Keith Newton and Bobby Moore as captain.
Included in the line-up were Everton team-mates Alan Ball and Brian Labone, but the latter was on the bench with the manager giving Terry Cooper from league champions Leeds United a run out.
Martin Peters and Alan Mullery kept their places. Also central and in the up top positions were the Manchester City trio of Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell and Francis Lee – who partnered in what was a very experimental, changed line-up.
In the match the Blackburn Rovers fullback Newton had an impressive display for the first 20 minutes but was caught in a bad tackle with the Italian midfielder Gianni Rivera and had to be stretchered off. He was replaced by Everton right fullback Tommy Wright.
The rest of the first half was played in the middle of the park but their were a couple of breaks forward from the Italian forwards Luigi Riva and Internazionale’s Roberto Boninsegna. Neither attempts on goal troubled Bonetti.
They went in all square and at the beginning of the 2nd half the signs that things were going to continue like this until Ramsey made a surprise double substitution on 55 minutes. He took off Summberbee and Bell and putting on Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst. With this more attacking line up England almost immediately gained the advantage, but were denied by Dino Zoff who parried a Hurst long range effort.
There were more changes from Italy with Gori, Furino and Puia brought on. Because of these stoppages the match lost its momentum and both sets of fans voiced their frustration at what was looking like a stalemate. But then in the 85th minute Francis Lee beat an offside trap and chipped the ball to Peters who nodded it past the Italian ‘keeper at the near post.
Italy replied by pushing further forward in search of an equalizer but even with this untested back four, the England team held out for the final whistle.
In the whole it was an unremarkable game with both sides not really exerting themselves.
There was a distraction at full time when three BMC Minis, one red, one white and one blue entered the stadium. They were followed by a police car and two motorcycles who all drove around the perimeter of the pitch before exiting again. This was met with loud cheers from the England fans who appreciated this apparent tribute to their visitors.
T. Cooper (-21 min’)
B. Moore (c)
M. Summerbee (-55′)
C. Bell (-55′)
T. Wright (+21′)
B. Charlton (+55′)
G. Hurst (+55′)
M. Peters (85′)
G. Facchetti (c)
P. Cera (-75′)
A. Domenghini (-75′)
R. Rosato (-80′)
G. Furino (+75)
S. Gori (+75′)
G. Puia (+80′)
Stadio Comunale, Turin