A spirited England side had to eventually bow out of the bout with a 2-1 loss to European giants Italy.
Match: England vs Italy.
The Group D fixture was billed as the ‘rumble in the jungle’ as both England and Italy wanted to get their campaign up and running. The Azzuri’s opened the scoring in the 35th minute after a cleverly worked corner kick routine found the unmarked Claudio Marchisio, who drilled the ball into the back of the net.
England quickly responded to this within a couple of minutes with Daniel Sturridge, who met a fantastic cross from Rooney to level the scores. Roy Hodson’s side looked in great shape notching up attack after attack in search of the second goal as the half time came to a close.
Their hopes were however soon dented in the 50th minute when Mario Balotelli’s accurate header found the back of the net to give Italy the lead once again. The striker who looked isolated throughout the match finally looked to have come to the party. It was England’s turn once again to try to find the equalizer and the three lions just lost steam, thus handing the match to their opposition.
Italy missed the services of keeper Gigi Buffon, who twisted his ankle In training. He was replaced by Sirigu, who was top notch on the day. England on the other hand fielded 5 Liverpool players including Raheem Sterling, who looked in fine firm giving the Italians a problem or two.
It was indeed a keenly contested battle between Italy’s midfield and England’s strike force. Pirlo and co managed to notch over 200 more passes when compared to their English counteparts with a 92% accuracy rate and it was here that the match was lost. With Uruguay losing to Costa Rica, the group has once again opened up wide and England may still fancy their chances.
England: Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Rooney, Welbeck, Sturridge
Italy: Sirigu, Darmian, Paletta, Barzagli, Chiellini, Verratti, Pirlo, De Rossi,Candreva, Balotelli, Marchisio
Man of the match – Pirlo was once again Italy’s stand out player. He dictated pace the entire game and was involved in both their goals. He was unlucky to miss out scoring on a freekick that wrongfooted the goalkeeper before brushing the crossbar.