An energetic England side were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game of the World Cup 2014.
An energetic England side were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game of the World Cup 2014. In uncomfortable conditions in Manus, Roy Hodgson’s men started bright with Raheem Sterling sending many bars across the nation in to raptures with an outstanding long range effort that deceived the majority into believing England had opened the scoring.
In reality it rippled the side netting.
England continued to press, clearly gunning for an early goal and Jordan Henderson tested Salvatore Sirigu who was in net for the injured Italian captain Gianluigi Buffon, with a piledriver of a shot. England continued to dominate without being clinical and Italy’s midfields, steered by Andrea Pirlo were slowly working their way into the game.
Yet it was still England who were the more threatening, with Daniel Sturridge inches away from opening the scoring only for Andrea Barzagl to divert Danny Welbeck’s cross with a last ditch tackle.
But it was Italy that made the breakthrough and inevitably Andrea Pirlo was instrumental. The 35-year-old Juventus midfielder played Daniel Sturridge with a clever dummy from a corner allowing Claudio Marchisio to drill home from 25-years through a crowded penalty box.
The goal came against the run of play, and England wasted no time in drawing level. Sterling, who was England’s top player, cut open the Italian defence with a cracking pass to Wayne Rooney who delivered an inch perfect cross to Daniel Sturridge who finished at the near post.
A dominant Italy
It was a well-deserved goal but Italy continued to emerge and nearly took the lead just before the break.
Mario Balotelli chased down the ball forcing Joe Hart to race off his line, the Manchester City goalkeeper wasn’t quick enough and was caught in no man’s land as his ex-teammate lobbed the ball over him, needing Phil Jagielka to head off the line. Antonio Candreva also went close as he stroke the post.
Italy had quickly found the weak link on England’s left flank during the first half and took advantage quickly after the interval. Candreva strolled past Leighton Baines who made a half-hearted attempt to stop the midfielder but his flimsy attempt of a block allowed Candreva to get a cross in which Balotelli nodded home at the near post.
England continued to press but could not pierce the Italian defence, despite the best attempts of Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley who replaced Welbeck.
The Everton midfielder came on and showed instant promise. He cut inside from the left and forced Sirigu into a save.
England’s next move
But the Italians continued to soak up the pressure without ever really having to get into second gear, with only Leighton Baines threatening from a freekick which Sirigu pushed wide.
Pirlo however nearly put the contest to bed, with a 35-yard swirling free kick which cannoned of the bar.
England showed promise but lacked any urgency going forward with Wayne Rooney once again non-existent for his country in a major tournament. Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge were the outstanding performances in an otherwise lacklustre England side. The questionable decision to play Wayne Rooney as part of a three man attacking midfield backfired and employing Welbeck on the right instead of Barkley was also dubious.
England need to be more clinic in front of goal against Uruguay on Thursday, otherwise they could be going home before the party has even started.
What do you think of England’s performance? Have your say in the comments section below.