Wily Italy outfox England, Costa Rica stun Uruguay

Sun Jun 15, 2014 3:19am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Italian experience overcame England's youthful exuberance in an intriguing clash of styles at the World Cup on Saturday and in Group D's other game unfancied Costa Rica beat twice champions Uruguay in the tournament's biggest upset so far.

Ivory Coast came from a goal behind to beat Japan 2-1 in the late kickoff in Recife after Colombia overcame Greece 3-0 to open Group C proceedings.

On an action-packed day across Brazil, England against Italy in the searing heat and humidity of Manaus had top billing, and it lived up to the hype in a thrilling contest in keeping with this tournament's emphasis on attacking football.

Claudio Marchisio fired Italy ahead after 35 minutes when England were wrong-footed by an Andrea Pirlo dummy, but Daniel Sturridge levelled within three minutes after Wayne Rooney picked him out with a perfect left-wing cross.

Mario Balotelli, who had a clever lob cleared off the line at the end of the first half, made it 2-1 five minutes into the second when he took advantage of ragged defending to head home.

England pressed for an equaliser, but Italy's defence grew in authority as the match wore on and the Azzurri secured the three points.

"Up until just a few years ago England relied on long balls, but they are now a skilled team with excellent triangular passing," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.

"They have changed a lot and now have one of the strongest attacks in the World Cup. That is why I am so satisfied with the result."   Continued...

Italy's Mario Balotelli (L) celebrates his goal against England with teammate Marco Verratti during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 14, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado