The Italians have beaten England 2-1 in a thrilling match between the heavyweights in Manaus. The match started slowly, with the Italians content to control possession, passing exceptionally. England looked the more threatening side at the start, testing stand-in keeper Salvatore Sirigu from long range early. Raheem Sterling was a major issue for the Italians, constantly threatening the goal with his speed and skills. All the same, the Italians had a lot of control, with Andrea Pirlo effortless in the middle. Italy were able to score first in the 35th minute through Claudio Marchisio. A short corner was taken by Antonio Candreva, and a pass was played in to Pirlo. Pirlo, heavily marked, let the ball pass through his legs to Marchisio, who fired past Joe Hart into the back of the net unmarked from long range. It didn’t take long for the English to level, however, with Wayne Rooney being sent through on the left before whipping in a cross which found Daniel Sturridge at the back post. The English striker tapped the ball in easily to level the score. Italy had some good chances near the end of the half, Mario Balotelli’s chip having to be headed away by Phil Jagielka. Candreva hit the post a minute later, but the sides went into the sheds tied at one-all.
England had a major chance in the 49th minute, but Sturridge was denied by Sirigu. Italy, however, struck on a counter attack, with Pirlo finding Matteo Darmian on the right. Darmian proceeded to find Candreva, who turned Leighton Baines inside out and whipped the ball into the box, where Balotelli hammered it into the back of the net with his head. England proceeded to go on the attack, with Rooney missing some critical chances, including a clear cut chance inside the box. Sirigu made a critical save to deny Ross Barkley, one of many made by the Paris Saint-Germain keeper on the night. England continued to have possession inside their half, but the Italian centre-backs Gabriel Palletta and Andrea Barzagli would not let them through. Glen Johnson’s long range shot was missed. England kept pushing. Sirigu dived brilliantly to stop a Baines free kick. England kept pushing. Both Steven Gerrard and Rooney put the ball over the bar as Italy kept holding on. Eventually the Italians started to counter, and Ciro Immobile proved dangerous. Pirlo hit the bar with a free kick, and Immobile had to be stopped by Gary Cahill after a counter-attack. England were left with no time left, and the Italians had held on to start off their campaign ideally.
Manaus – Arena Amazonia
England 1 (Sturridge 37)
Italy 2 (Marchisio 35, Balotelli 50)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Ned)
England: Hart – Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Johnson, Henderson (Wilshere 73), Gerrard, Rooney, Sterling, Welbeck (Barkley 61), Sturridge (Lallana 80).
Italy: Sirigu – Chiellini, Barzagli, Palletta, Darmian, Verratti (Motta 57), de Rossi, Marchisio, Pirlo, Candreva (Parolo 79), Balotelli (Immobile 73).