Personally, disappointed… We really should have won our opening game. Little hope now lies with England.
Although, Roy Hodgson has done well with his new-look team. They were playing for reputation, aiming to change it in one night. Unfortunately that has not happened. We’ve lost our opening match and the path out of group D is looking particularly hazardous.
We played hard, gave it all we had, in an attacking sense. Sterling behind Sturridge was a fine choice by Hodgson as it made sure we were frequently up in our opponents face, throwing what we could at the Italian goalkeeper, Salvatore Sirigu and the Italian defence. The pair played fantastic together, linking play and creating opportunities.
England have got a lot to do now. We may have to win both of our remaining group matches, against Uruguay on Thursday, followed by the encounter with Costa Rica on Tuesday the 24th. We can keep our heads lifted for now though, as last night showed an England team aiming high. We looked energetic and ready to fight. We passed the ball well, moved well and created lots of space, particularly in the first hour.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the back line. They were vulnerable far too often. They are going to have to remove the errors that undid such fantastic work further up the pitch, if we are to save ourselves.
Italy took the lead, courtesy of Marchisio’s 20 yard shot, and a classic piece of Pirlo magic. Pirlo had been seen misplacing a simple pass earlier on, much to the delight of the cheering England fans. In the 35th minute a simple short pass from a corner gave Verratti the ball out wide on the right wing. He played a simple backwards diagonal pass that was headed for Pirlo. He dummied it, leaving Sturridge nowhere near the ball and Marchisio to take aim. He drove it low from just outside the box, to which Joe Hart couldn’t get a hand to. Possibly due to the line of defenders in his sights.
England almost instantly replied. Sterling played the incisive pass between two Italian defenders to set Rooney off clear. Sturridge raced into the box, anticipated the cross, and peeled off to the back post giving himself plenty of room. Rooney played the perfect ball. The trajectory of the left footed cross invited Sturridge to confidently hit it on the half-volley past Sirigu.
The winner, from Mario Balotelli, came within minutes of the second half kicking off. A clever cut in from Candreva gave him space, his left foot curled a cross deep into the England area, Balotelli beat Jagielka to the ball and headed home safely past Joe Hart. England fought back hard, battered the Italian defence but could not finish. Rooney had a couple of chances but could not hit the target, Ross Barkley’s chances were palmed away by Sirigu. The full time whistle blew and the hope we had is diminishing. Italy 2 – England 1.