England vs. Italy: World Cup Group D Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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England vs. Italy: World Cup Group D Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images

England are on the back foot in the race to advance from World Cup Group D after falling to a 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus on Saturday.

Goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli sandwiched an effort from Daniel Sturridge as Italy joined Costa Rica on three points.

England manager Roy Hodgson pinned his faith in Raheem Sterling and was almost rewarded on four minutes. The Liverpool tyro drove forward at pace before letting fly with a shot that crashed into the side netting.

Italy were dealt a blow on the morning of the game when keeper Gianluigi Buffon was ruled out on account of injury. His replacement, Salvatore Sirigu, was looking for an early, positive touch. He got it six minutes in, as a fizzing drive from Jordan Henderson brought a diving save out of the Azzurri keeper.

Italy had plenty of possession, but their impact was limited in the early exchanges.

The chances continued to fall to England. Danny Welbeck dragged a shot wide after some sloppy defensive play from Italy, a cross from Sterling just eluded Welbeck and another ball into the box was deflected out of the path of Sturridge.

Italy came out of their shell as the first half wore on and a good run and cross from Matteo Darmian crafted a chance for Balotelli, but his header lacked power and direction.

Christopher Lee/Getty Images

On 35 minutes, Italy edged themselves ahead with a goal of the highest class. A short-corner routine saw Andrea Pirlo step over the ball to create space for Marchisio. He took one touch before slamming a low shot through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner.

England shook off the setback and drew level within a couple of minutes. Sterling set Wayne Rooney, who had been virtually anonymous to that point, free, and he produced a pinpoint cross for Sturridge to slam home.

Italy twice came close to restoring their lead in the minutes before the break. Balotelli had a clever chip nodded off the line by Phil Jagielka, while from the resulting corner, a shot from Antonio Candreva crashed against the post.

England made a positive start to the second half, with Sturridge driving past defenders and forcing a save out of Sirigu.

Italy took an age to warm to the task in the first half. It took them five minutes in the second.

A simply delicious cross from Candreva cut out Gary Cahill and picked out Balotelli, who made no mistake with his header.

Rooney was much more involved in the second half, and he went close to drawing England level just past the hour. After finding space in the box, he cut inside onto his right foot but dragged the shot wide.

England threw on Ross Barkley, and within a couple of minutes, the youngster tested the handling of Sirigu, while his Everton team-mate, Leighton Baines, also stung the palms of the keeper with a free-kick.

England pressed for a leveller in the final 10 minutes but failed to find a way past Sirigu, and Pirlo came close to rubbing salt into the wounds with a late free-kick that crashed against the bar.

With Uruguay also falling to defeat on Saturday, the meeting between the two sides on Thursday takes on huge significance.

The contest in Sao Paulo is in effect a knockout match, as defeat will result in elimination.

 

Grades

Note: Ratings based on a 1-10 scale with 1 being the worst and 10 the best.

England Player Ratings
Player 1st-half rating 2nd-half rating
Hart 6 6
Johnson 6 5
Cahill 6 7
Jagielka 7 7
Baines 6 5
Gerrard 6 6
Henderson 7 7
Rooney 6 5
Sterling 8 8
Welbeck 7 6
Sturridge 8 7
Substitutes
Barkley 7
Wilshere 6
Lallana 6

B/R

Italy Player Ratings
Player 1st-half rating 2nd-half rating
Sirigu 6 7
Darmian 7 7
Barzagli 7 7
Paletta 6 7
Chiellini 6 7
De Rossi 7 7
Candreva 8 9
Verratti 7 6
Pirlo 8 7
Marchisio 8 7
Balotelli 7 8
Substitutes
Motta 6
Immobile 6
Parolo 6

B/R

 

Post-Match Reaction

England captain Steven Gerrard spoke to the BBC immediately after the game and felt the Three Lions were unfortunate.

Italy are a good team and we knew how they were going to play, they never surprised us. It is disappointing as we put so much into it and have come away with nothing.

Two years ago we were criticsed for sitting back and being a bit toothless, but anyone who watched that game will see that we pushed and pushed. We were unlucky to not getting anything out of it.

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