World Cup 2014 Group D: England 1-2 Italy | inside World Soccer

Italy made the perfect start to their 2014 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory against England in a thriller at Manaus on Saturday night.


The Azzurri opened the scoring after 35 minutes when a well-worked corner saw Andrea Pirlo step over the ball and leave teammate Claudio Marchisio to drill in a low shot into the near bottom corner past Joe Hart.

But England were back on level terms just two minutes later with Daniel Sturridge firing home at the back post following a slick move involving Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney.

Italy, though, restored their lead five minutes after the restart as Antonio Candreva whipped in a wonderful cross from the right that Mario Balotelli headed home at the back post.

"We worked a lot and in a good way," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told RAI Sport.

"We will never be a team with big, sudden counter-attacks, but we have players with qualities and we must take advantage of this."

Pirlo told Sky Italia: "We have been courageous. We wanted to play in a good way and I think we have played a great game.

"It was an important win that gives us confidence. Italy must know that we are a strong side, despite the difficulties and that we must continue in this way."

England skipper Steven Gerrard told BBC Sport: "We weren't sure how much Italy would have improved from two years ago but they found an extra gear.

"At this level it's so cruel. You can try so hard and come away with nothing."

Lineups:

England: Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Leighton Baines; Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson (Jack Wilshere 73); Danny Welbeck (Ross Barkley 61), Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney; Daniel Sturridge (Adam Lallana 80)

Italy: Salvatore Sirigu; Matteo Darmian, Andrea Barzagli, Gabriel Paletta, Giorgio Chiellini; Daniele De Rossi; Antonio Candreva (Marco Parolo 80), Andrea Pirlo, Marco Verratti (Thiago Motta 57), Claudio Marchisio; Mario Balotelli (Ciro Immobile 73)


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