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World Cup 2014: Italians survive the heat as they outclass inexperienced England

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Italy showed their experience and poise as they strolled through to a 2-1 win against England. One of the big talking points coming into the game was the sweltering heat of Manaus, and it ended up being critical to England’s inability to come back after Mario Balotelli headed in the decisive goal.

The match started rather cautiously, with both teams looking to conserve their energy in scorching conditions. Italy controlled the game from midfield, but England had the better chances through blistering counter attacks led by young Liverpool hope Raheem Sterling.

However, the Azzurri opened the scoring with a set piece planned to training ground perfection as Juventus’ Claudio Marchisio hit a sumptuous long range effort that England had no answer to. To England’s credit, they responded almost instantly, with Man United’s Wayne Rooney providing an inch perfect cross for Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge on the counter attack, leaving the game evenly poised at half-time.

It all went downhill for England after the restart as the Italians led almost immediately. The hugely impressive Antonio Candreva cut in from the right and delivered a peach of a cross from his weaker foot to Mario Balotelli, who buried in the header past Joe Hart.

England responded with some effervescent play, with substitute Ross Barkley providing a surge of energy. However, they could not get the ball in goal, as Wayne Rooney missed a great chance which he would have normally buried. Thereafter, England faded badly as their players lost focus due to the sizzling heat. The last twenty minutes was easier for the Italian defence than they would have expected, as the English were wayward with their crosses and shooting.

The result was more or less expected, as England once again proved their inability to be decisive against the big sides. They will be relieved that Uruguay shockingly lost against Costa Rica, and England’s match against the 2010 semi-finalists will be a crucial affair.

Teams:

Italy: Salvatore Sirigu, Matteo Darmian, Andrea Barzagli, Gabriel Paletta, Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio, Daniele de Rossi, Marco Verratti (57’ for Thiago Motta), Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Candreva (79’ for Marco Parolo), Mario Balotelli (73’ for Ciro Immobile)

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

Final Score: Italy 2-1 England (35’ Marchisio, 37’ Sturridge, 50’ Balotelli)