In a thrilling Group D encounter of the FIFA World Cup, Italy edged England 2-1 courtesy goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli at the Arena da Amazonia here Saturday.
Goals from Marchisio (35th minute) and Balotelli (50th) canceled out Daniel Sturridge’s leveller in the 37th minute.
England manager Roy Hodgson stuck to his word of playing attacking football.
The English did all the attacking early on with Raheem Sterling and Sturridge combining well.
Italy, though, took the lead much against the run of play.
Claudio Marchisio opened the scoring for the Azzuri with a well worked corner routine.
Andrea Pirlo’s dummy found Marchisio at the end of it. The midfielder’s grounded shot beat a sprawling Joe Hart in the England goal.
England hit back almost immediately. Wayne Rooney’s beautifully flighted cross found Sturridge, who side footed in the volley from two yards out.
The Italians almost retook the lead when Balotelli’s splendid chip beat Hart but was cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka.
England survived another scare just minutes later as Antonio Candreva’s shot cannoned off the post.
The Italians started the second half where they left off from the first.
Balotelli gave the Italians the lead for the second time in the match, heading in a Candreva cross from close range.
England threw everything at their opponents and tested the Italian goalkeeper more than once.
But much to the disappoint of the English fans they were denied every single time.
Pirlo almost put the match beyond any doubt in added time as his dipping free kick ricochetted off the crossbar.
England, however, will be happy with what they brought to the table. The second youngest English team played some excellent attacking football and created more clear cut chances.
Italy, meanwhile, have stolen a march in the race to finish in the top two of the group, especially after Uruguay’s shock 1-3 loss to Costa Rica earlier in the day.