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On This Betting Day in 2007: England under-21s christened the new Wembley with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Italy

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After seven years spent without an official home, following the closure of the old Wembley Stadium back in 2000, England returned back to their rightful stomping ground on March 24th 2007. 

The new Wembley was back and it was magnificent, donning a unique archway connecting one side to another. It was different to anything that had ever been built before; an architectural masterclass, if you will.

Pazzini makes history

England’s under-21s, led by Nigel Pearson, were tasked with christening the gleaming new arena when they hosted Italy’s under-21s 13 years ago today, and what a thrilling encounter it turned out to be.

Just under 60,000 spectators gathered to witness Azzurri front man Giampaolo Pazzini light up HA9 with a stunning individual display against the Young Lions. The then-Fiorentina striker engraved his name into the history books, after he scored the first goal and subsequent hat-trick at the rebuilt stadium, with his first of the game coming after just 25 seconds.

A David Bentley free-kick levelled proceedings on the half hour mark, however, before Wayne Routledge nudged the hosts in front just after the break. England’s lead lasted for all of a minute, though, after Pazzini drew the visitors level with a finish from close-range; his second of the game. 

A whirlwind opening period in the second-half was capped off when Matt Derbyshire’s 58th minute strike once again put England into the lead. Just 10 minutes later Pazzini spoiled the party and rounded off his hat-trick with a well-taken goal, and the contest ended with the spoils shared. 

In truth, the Italian could have even scored a fourth and nabbed the victory for his country late-on, but ultimately squandered the opportunity. You can’t score them all I suppose.

Blast from the past

There were some memorable names in action when Italy came to visit England for the first ever match played out at the rebuilt Wembley Stadium 13 years ago today. 

Lee Camp lined up between the sticks for the Three Lions, while Crystal Palace defender Gary Cahill held the back-line together alongside Anton Ferdinand, Liam Rosenior and Leighton Baines. 

A midfield-three consisting of David Bentley, Nigel Reo-Coker and Kieran Richardson supported Wayne Routledge, Gabby Agbonlahor and Leroy Lita in attack. 

Substitutes Ashley Young, Matt Derbyshire, James Milner, Justin Hoyte and Tom Huddlestone each played their part, leaving Cameron Jerome, Lee Cattermole, Liam Ridgewell, Joe Hart and Ben Alnwick resigned to the bench. 

Of that 21-man matchday squad, only three players are still playing regular top-flight football in the Premier League. 

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