A match that displayed two European powerhouses playing at a high level, but in the end a header for the Italians in the second half would be enough to give them a 2-1 victory.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
MANAUS—Italian striker Mario Balotelli heads in the winner against England on Saturday, while playing in the new Amazon stadium, Arena Amazonia.
Italy’s midfielder Antonio Candreva received a pass in the far right corner of the field; he eluded an English defender by faking a cross, and then cutting towards the penalty box. Taking one step Candreva looked up and saw a streaking Super Mario, coming down the left hand side of the penalty box fast.
Not wasting anytime, Candreva sent a perfect high cross right to the head of Balotelli, and the 23-year-old striker powerfully headed the ball into the back of the net, recapturing the lead at the 50 minute, and giving the Italians a 2-1 victory.
The Gli Azzurri originally took the lead in the first half at the 35 minute. Midfielder Claudio Marchio received a low pass from the right hand side of the field, veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo ran towards the ball, and then let the ball pass through his legs.
Giving Marchio time to stop the ball from the top of the penalty box, control it, aim and fire a powerful shot to the bottom left hand corner of the net. The ball traveled through a sea of legs, blinding England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart. By the time Hart saw the ball it was too late, and the ball was heading with pace towards the goal. The Juventus midfielder gave the Italians an early 1-0 lead.
However, two minutes later England responded with a thunderous volley shot from Daniel Sturridge. Attacking midfielder Wayne Rooney received a crisp well-timed pass from 19-year-old Raheem Sterling. Rooney began sprinting down the left hand side of the field with the ball, while being chased down by two Italian defenders.
Coming down the right hand side of the field was Sturridge. Rooney saw the 24-year-old striker running hard and fast into the penalty box, then the Manchester United striker released a cross with curve and pace.
Sturridge only has seconds to react before the opportunity was wasted; he quickly decided to blast the ball into the back of the net. Just like that the match was tied 1-1 at 37 minute.
For the remaining time left in the half, both teams battled in the midfield attempting control the game. However, in the second half the caution tape was ripped off, and neither Italy nor England held back their attack.
However, the Italians would score the next goal from a powerful Balotelli header to secure the 2-1 victory at the 50 minute.
England would come close of tying the game at the 62 minute, when Rooney took a low hard shot in the penalty box, but missed the goal by an inch.
Italy would withstand the English attacks for the rest of the second half, and get the important three points to start their World Cup.
The English will need to rebound against Uruguay on Thursday, June 19 at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. If England loses again then their World Cup will be cut short.
As for Italy, they will have a chance to secure a birth into the round of 16, if they defeat Costa Rica On Friday, June 20 at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife.
Click on this link to see the highlights of this match http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1882075, video provided by ESPN FC.