Italy striker of Ghanaian descent Balotelli grabs winner in England defeat at World Cup
Mario Balotelli scored on his World Cup debut when he nodded home Italy’s second goal in their 2-1 win over England in their Group D match in Manaus on Saturday.
England had the lion’s share of the possession and shots at goal but will rue their missed opportunities as they failed to capitalize on their chances.
Having seen Costa Rica shock Uruguay to a 3-1 defeat in the group opener earlier in the evening, the pressure was on the two teams to grind out a result.
The stadium fell silent after just three minutes of play when Raheem Sterling whipped in a brilliant angled daisy-cutter that sailed into the top corner, only to hit the side-netting. It initially looked like the ball had gone into the back of the net but to Italy’s relief it was out of play.
Minutes later, Andre Pirlo was left wanting a penalty after the ball connected with Glen Johnson’s arm in the box, however, nothing was given and rightly so.
England were doing well to have a go at their European counterparts as they enjoyed a good spell of possession in the opening quarter of an hour.
Joe Hart counted his blessings in the 20th minute when Antonio Candreva’s pile driver from range rebounded out of the Manchester City man’s hands and into the box, though there was no Italy follow up.
It was nearly 1-0 three minutes later when Danny Welbeck burst into the box and sliced in a cross from the byline. It looked destined to go in, but the slightest of deflections from Andrea Barzagli left Italy counting their blessings.
Italy were starting to threaten at goal and took the lead on 34 minutes when Pirlo dummied to open space for Claudio Marchisio and he drove a low effort from 20-yards to beat Joe Hart.
Daniel Sturridge responded with the equalizing goal immediately when he connected onto Wayne Rooney’s cross to prod home at the back post for 1-1.
The Azzurri finished the half in strong form as Balotelli was denied with a goalline clearance from Phil Jagielka, before Candreva smacked the upright on the follow-up corner.
The Milan man put Italy back in front five minutes into the second 45 when he did well to beat Gary Cahill and nod in Candreva’s cross in at the back post.
Ross Barkley, who came on for Wellbeck, tested the gloves of Salvatore Sirigu in the 64th minute that forced the Paris Saint-Germain ‘keeper to push it away at full stretch.
Italy will move joint top of the group with Costa Rica, while Uruguay and England will head into matchday two looking for their first points.