Giampaolo Pazzini wrote his name into Wembley folklore by scoring the first hat-trick at the revamped stadium, although the feat was not enough to secure Italy victory against their fellow UEFA European Under-21 Championship finalists as England ushered in a new era with a draw.
Whereas there was a funereal air to the last game at the famous north London venue, a 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat by Germany in October 2000, Pazzini's 28th-second strike and second-half leveller failed to dampen the party atmosphere. David Bentley (31), Wayne Routledge (52) and Matt Derbyshire (58) were all on target for England, but the day belonged to Pazzini as the ACF Fiorentina forward completed his hat-trick with goals in the 53rd and 68th minutes.
Just as Dietmar Hamann will always be remembered as the man who scored the final goal at the old Wembley, Pazzini will hope his name remains synonymous with the first at its sparking reincarnation after beating Lee Camp from outside the area with a shot which took a deflection off the leg of Anton Ferdinand. Bentley looked England's most likely route back into the match, twice forcing Gianluca Curci to punch over before failing to get the ball from under his feet in the 20th minute after being teed up by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Bentley hits back
The Blackburn Rovers FC midfielder made no mistake in the 31st minute, though, picking himself up after being dumped to the turf by Antonio Nocerino to arc a sublime free-kick over the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner of Curci's net. Bentley's club colleague Derbyshire was introduced at half-time and was quick to make an impression, as he has been doing in the Premiership this season, showing a lovely touch and vision to leave the Azzurrini defence flat-footed with a pass from which Routledge made it 2-1 with a neat finish.
There was little time for celebration, Italy again sweeping forward from a kick-off to level inside a minute. Piacenza FC defender Nocerino collected a corner in space at the far post and had time to pick out Pazzini who clinically turned the ball in. Derbyshire restored England's lead in the 58th minute from James Milner's pass, yet any hopes he had of becoming the first man to score a winning goal at the new stadium were ended by Pazzini who struck with a low shot which earned him both the match ball and a place in history.
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