The England women continued their preparation for this summer's UEFA Women's Championship with a 1-1 draw against Italy on Friday, where the Lionesses were made to pay for a flash mistake in defence as they were held on home soil.
Manager Mark Sampson's side went ahead in the 70th minute through Jodie Taylor after pummelling the Azzurri goal, but Valentina Cernoia hit back just minutes later with a deflected attempt from the edge of the box.
Italy were saddened to lose midfielder Alice Parisi to what appeared to be a serious leg injury during the first half of Friday's clash following a collision with England's Millie Bright.
Women's football account Girls On The Ball bemoaned England's profligacy in front of goal, summarising a frustrating night in a result the home nation should have won:
Girls on the Ball @GirlsontheBall
FT England 1-1 Italy. England will once again rue their missed chances as it ends in a draw at Port Vale. #gotblive2017-4-7 20:40:24
England opened the clash at Vale Park with a spring in their step as the Italians struggled to find much by way of entrance into the hosts' half, although the Lionesses were missing any killer bite in attack.
Despite Friday's meeting falling under friendly circumstances, Vauxhall England also pointed to this game being of special significance to manager Sampson, too:
Vauxhall England @VauxhallEngland
📷 Proud moment for @Mark_Sampson on the occasion of his 50th game in charge of the #Lionesses 🙌 #GetIN https://t.co/EMK34KjiMS2017-4-7 19:04:08
Karen Carney had a particularly impressive opening half for the hosts and made sure she was contributing across the pitch despite being fielded on the left side of a midfield four.
The attacker popped up on the 20-minute mark with a shot that just flew wide of Italy's left post as finding opportunities inside the area proved problematic for the oppressors.
There was major concern around the half-hour mark at Vale Park after Italian playmaker Parisi came off worse following a meaty tackle on England opponent Bright, who came out of the collision without a scrape.
UEFA reporter Paul Saffer commented on the challenge in question and pondered what a lengthy Parisi absence could mean for their hopes ahead of the 2017 UEFA Women's Championship:
Paul Saffer @UEFAcomPaulS
Bad looking injury for key @azzurri player Alice Parisi in their friendly in @England. Would be a huge blow for Italy ahead of #WEURO20172017-4-7 19:19:42
Manchester City defender Lucy Bronze tested Azzurri goalkeeper Katja Schroffenegger from range just before the interval, and the Bayern Munich stopper went on to become a more prominent figure as the match wore on:
Audacious effort from @LucyBronze! 👏 Watch the second half live: https://t.co/RYf0UEHnx0 https://t.co/XNjJq6QzTH2017-4-7 19:39:34
England had a penalty appeal 10 minutes into the second period when Italian defender Sara Gama appeared to handle the ball at the back post before all appeals were rejected, the Lionesses left fuming with a chance gone astray.
They made up for that missed call in the 70th minute, however, when Taylor took full advantage of Schroffenegger's poor positioning off her line, lobbing the Azzurri No. 1 from almost 30 yards out:
GOAL! @Jodes_14 puts the #Lionesses ahead! 🙌 https://t.co/mzSK6jUKXa2017-4-7 20:18:10
Italy had barely a sight at goal over the course of the match up to that point, making it all the more ironic when it took the guests just three minutes to strike level through Cernoia.
Melania Gabbiadini, older sister of Southampton striker Manolo, crossed in from the right, and a poor English clearance found its way to the Italy substitute swiftly after England's opener:
Argh – the #Lionesses are quickly pegged back, as Valentina Cernoia slams home the leveller. 😡 https://t.co/lpZtymYjeY2017-4-7 20:22:12
The two teams thrashed it out for the remainder of the clash, although England had their chances to find a late winner through Toni Duggan and Alex Greenwood but neither player could rise to be the victor.
The Lionesses have two more friendly fixtures before their UEFA Women's Championship kicks off later this year, with Sampson's side set to host Austria on Monday before their final warm-up game against Switzerland in June.
Meanwhile, Italy remain on the road for now and will travel to meet Austria in June in what will be their final friendly before the summer tournament, with tensions building toward what promises to be a European blockbuster.