Cool Italy outwit England to win 2-1 in the heat

Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:16pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

MANAUS Brazil (Reuters) - A cool-headed Italy proved too clever for England on Saturday, scoring two well-crafted goals and defending doggedly in the Amazon heat to grab a 2-1 win in their opening World Cup Group D game.

Italy grabbed the winner in the 50th minute when midfielder Antonio Candreva outfoxed England left back Leighton Baines and chipped a cross deep into the area for Mario Balotelli to head in from close range at the far post.

England otherwise dominated the second half but could not find a way past back-up keeper Salvatore Sirigu, deputizing for the injured Gianluigi Buffon.

Italy are joint top of the group with Costa Rica while England must beat Uruguay in their next game to retain realistic hopes of reaching the last 16.

The result was fair and reflected well on both teams, who did not shirk in high humidity and temperatures that were still 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) at kickoff.

"We played well. It was a hard fought victory but we kept control of the midfield," Italian manager Cesare Prandelli told reporters.

The Italians started with five men in midfield in a bid to clamp down on fleet-footed English forwards Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck.

England began well but some players, including Wayne Rooney and Baines, had games to forget.   Continued...

England's Joe Hart (L) and Gary Cahill (C) fight for the ball against Italy's Mario Balotelli during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Darren Staples