England 1 Italy 2: It’s the best we’ve played under me, says Roy Hodgson
England 1 Italy 2: Roy Hodgson describes the Three Lions' performance as the best he has seen since taking charge
Roy Hodgson hailed the “best performance” of his reign despite watching England begin their World Cup campaign with defeat by Italy in Manaus.
Claudio Marchisio’s low drive put the Azzurri ahead in the 35th minute but the Three Lions equalised soon after when Daniel Sturridge turned home Wayne Rooney’s cross.
It’s the best I’ve seen the team play during my time with them
Mario Balotelli restored Italy’s lead five minutes after half-time when he headed home Antonio Candreva’s precise cross.
Rooney then dragged a shot wide from a good position, before Andrea Pirlo hit the crossbar with a dipping free-kick.
“The only positive I can take is to say that it’s the best I’ve seen the team play during my time with them,” said Hodgson.
“It’s very good to know that we have so many players who I think will help us become a much better team going forward.
“I thought even when they scored in the second half we’d get back into it and go on to win. Our second-half performance was very dominant.
“We have to bite the bullet today and accept that we played well – but played against a very good team as well who were difficult to beat.”
Costa Rica are top of Group D after a surprise 3-1 win over Uruguay, England’s next opponents, earlier on Saturday.