England’s winless start to their Nations League campaign continued as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by a youthful Italy side at a near-empty Molineux on Saturday.
The first meeting between the nations since the tumultuous Euro 2020 final at Wembley last year was a tame affair with precious little to cheer for the 2,000 children allowed to attend despite a UEFA ban.
England’s Aaron Ramsdale was the busier of the two keepers, with crucial saves in the first half to deny Sandro Tonali and Matteo Pessina as Italy cut through England’s defence.
With Harry Kane left on the bench until the 65th minute, England lacked attacking spark and the closest they came to scoring was Mason Mount’s first-half shot against the bar.
Raheem Sterling wasted a glorious opportunity after the break but England did not do enough to earn the win.
Gareth Southgate’s side are bottom of Group A3 with two points from their opening three games while Italy, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, are top with five points.
England host Hungary on Tuesday while Roberto Mancini’s Italy are away to Germany.
The match was played without fans as part of a UEFA punishment for crowd trouble during last year’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley which Italy won on penalties.
While England’s lineup had an experimental feel and the atmosphere was flat, the lack of quality and their over-cautious style will be a cause for concern with the World Cup looming in Qatar in November.