Match ends, England 1, Italy Women 1.
England women 1-1 Italy women
England were held to a 1-1 draw by Italy at Vale Park in a game marred by a serious injury.
After a goalless first half in which the Lionesses dominated, striker Jodie Taylor's fine first-time lob gave England a deserved lead.
But Italy quickly levelled through Valentina Cernoia's crisp strike.
Striker Toni Duggan could have won it, but drilled wide for the hosts in their first match since Mark Sampson named his squad for Euro 2017.
The result was harsh on England, after one of their best displays in the past 12 months, but visiting keeper Katja Schroffenegger denied Taylor superbly in each half.
Left-back Alex Greenwood also wasted a great chance to win the game in stoppage time when she headed wastefully wide.
For Italy, who are also preparing for this summer's tournament in the Netherlands, the match was soured by a serious injury to playmaker Alice Parisi, who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg after an unfortunate collision with England's Millie Bright.
The Azzurri, ranked 19th in the world - 15 places below England - improved going forward in the second half after the introduction of substitute Melania Gabbiadini - sister of Southampton forward Manola - but rarely threatened Siobhan Chamberlain's goal aside from Cernoia's fierce equaliser.
One win in six
The draw left England with just one win from their six games in 2017 so far, although those fixtures have included meetings with the world's top three sides.
In front of 7,181 fans, Sampson's side created enough chances to beat Italy by a big margin, but despite having 23 efforts, they were wasteful in front of goal.
The England boss was accused on Monday of "sending out a dangerous message" through not picking players based on form, by out-of-favour Chelsea striker Eniola Aluko.
Aluko - who has 100 England caps - was the top scorer in Women's Super League One in 2016 but was one of a number of forwards who were arguably unfortunate to miss out on Sampson's Euros squad.
England carved out several openings, although Taylor broke the deadlock from one of the most difficult, lobbing the keeper with a first-time effort from 25 yards to net her seventh international goal.
The 30-year-old Arsenal forward would have had a hat-trick but for Schroffenegger's reflexes.
Player of the Match - Jordan Nobbs
Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs was at the heart of almost everything that England did well, putting in a fine display and demonstrating her pace, vision and industrious energy down the hosts' right.
With England's squad for the Euros not including any players under the age of 23, it was one of the younger members - 24-year-old Nobbs - who entertained the home crowd at Vale Park.
Italy took their moment - What they said
England women boss Mark Sampson: "It was a big pitch. It was a good opportunity for us to show our physical fitness tonight. We only made three subs because we wanted to replicate the European Championships.
"We didn't expect so many people - we expected a low crowd - so to see that many people was a huge boost to this group of players."
England captain Steph Houghton: "We did everything but put the ball in the back of the net to get that winning goal.
"But it is about the performance. It is very positive when we are creating those chances. Going to the Euros, potentially teams are going to bank up and not give us much space.
"When we play these sorts of teams, it is important for us to know they are always going to have 'a moment'. Italy took their moment.
"Our quality and our athleticism did shine above Italy as a team."
England host Austria at Milton Keynes Dons' Stadium MK on Monday, 10 April, before the WSL 1 Spring Series then takes centre-stage until 3 June.
Sampson's side then face Switzerland in Biel on 10 June, before their opening match of the tournament against Group D opponents Scotland in Utrecht on 19 July.
- 3StokesSubstituted forGreenwoodat 69'minutes
- 8MooreSubstituted forWilliamsat 68'minutes
- 10DugganSubstituted forParrisat 90'minutes
- 2BartoliBooked at 65minsSubstituted forBoattinat 85'minutes
- 7GuagniSubstituted forGabbiadiniat 56'minutes
- 10ParisiSubstituted forGalliat 37'minutes
- 11BonanseaSubstituted forBonettiat 60'minutes
- 23GirelliSubstituted forCernoiaat 45'minutes
- 9MauroSubstituted forSabatinoat 68'minutes
- 15Di Criscio
- Morag Pirie
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, England 1, Italy Women 1.
Attempt blocked. Jill Scott (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Karen Carney with a cross.
Corner, England. Conceded by Lisa Boattin.
Fara Williams (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daniela Sabatino (Italy Women).
Substitution, England. Nikita Parris replaces Toni Duggan because of an injury.
Attempt blocked. Daniela Stracchi (Italy Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Alex Greenwood (England) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Karen Carney with a cross.
Offside, Italy Women. Lisa Boattin tries a through ball, but Daniela Sabatino is caught offside.
Substitution, Italy Women. Lisa Boattin replaces Elisa Bartoli.
Attempt missed. Lucy Bronze (England) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Toni Duggan (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.
Attempt saved. Fara Williams (England) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jill Scott.
Attempt missed. Karen Carney (England) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Alex Greenwood with a cross following a corner.
Corner, England. Conceded by Katia Schroffenegger.
Attempt saved. Jodie Taylor (England) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Karen Carney.
Attempt missed. Aurora Galli (Italy Women) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Sara Gama.
Foul by Fara Williams (England).
Daniela Sabatino (Italy Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! England 1, Italy Women 1. Valentina Cernoia (Italy Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.
Attempt missed. Jodie Taylor (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jordan Nobbs.
Goal! England 1, Italy Women 0. Jodie Taylor (England) right footed shot from outside the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Nobbs with a through ball.
Substitution, England. Alex Greenwood replaces Demi Stokes.
Substitution, England. Fara Williams replaces Jade Moore.
Substitution, Italy Women. Daniela Sabatino replaces Ilaria Mauro.
Foul by Jill Scott (England).
Aurora Galli (Italy Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Elisa Bartoli (Italy Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Toni Duggan (England) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Elisa Bartoli (Italy Women).
Karen Carney (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ilaria Mauro (Italy Women).
Attempt blocked. Toni Duggan (England) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordan Nobbs.
Foul by Demi Stokes (England).
Melania Gabbiadini (Italy Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Italy Women. Tatiana Bonetti replaces Barbara Bonansea.
Attempt missed. Toni Duggan (England) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Karen Carney.
Foul by Lucy Bronze (England).
Elisa Bartoli (Italy Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.