Published Sunday, 15 June 2014
Mario Balotelli and Marco Verratti celebrate after the second goal. (© Getty)
Daniel Sturridge cancelled out a Claudio Marchisio strike before Mario Ballotelli scored a second half winner for the Azzurri at the Arena Amazonia.
England at times looked breathtaking on the attack and took the game to their opponents from the start.
Raheem Sterling wowed the crowds with his quick thinking and even quicker feet and was the architect for Sturridge's goal, delivering a 40-yard pass to Wayne Rooney who found the Liverpool man with a lovely cross which was duly stabbed home on the half-volley.
It prompted some over-exuberant celebrations on the England bench with physio Gary Lewin having to be carried off on a stretcher with a dislocated ankle.
Despite a promising performance it was defensive shortcomings that cost Roy Hodgson's side.
Marchisio took full advantage after being inexplicably left unmarked to score from outside the box, then Gary Cahill lost Balotelli at the back post to allow Italy to add a winner.
"It is a bit tough to accept we lost the game," Hodgson said.
"Even when they got back to 2-1 I thought we would get back into it. I thought that was the best I'd seen the team play. I suppose you have to bite the bullet today and accept we played well.
"To take them so close gives us great confidence playing against Uruguay and Costa Rica."
© UTV News