England 1 Italy 2: Steven Gerrard rues ‘cruel’ opening defeat

England 1 Italy 2: Steven Gerrard says the Three Lions can take heart from a positive display despite Group D defeat

England
1
Italy
2

Steven Gerrard was left to rue a “cruel” result after England’s World Cup campaign began in defeat by Italy in Manaus.

Claudio Marchisio’s low 25-yard drive put Italy ahead in the 35th minute but the Three Lions were level less than two minutes later when Daniel Sturridge turned home Wayne Rooney’s cross.

We pushed and pushed and were unlucky not to get anything out of it

Steven Gerrard

Mario Balotelli restored Italy’s lead five minutes after half-time when he headed home Antonio Candreva’s precise cross.

But England continued to push forward and Rooney missed a good chance when he dragged a shot wide, before Andrea Pirlo’s late swerving free-kick hit the crossbar.

“I thought we matched them all the way,” said Gerrard. “Yes, they had more of the ball in the first half and caused us problems down the left wing, but if we look at the game as a whole we can be pleased with a lot of it.

“It just goes to show at this level how cruel it is. You give so much effort and try so hard and you can still come away from nothing. That’s the lesson from tonight.”

Teenager Raheem Sterling impressed after being handed a starting spot by Roy Hodgson as England created 18 chances – although only five were on target.

And England captain Gerrard believes that Hodgson’s men can take heart from their display heading into their next Group D game against Uruguay on Thursday.

“We got criticised four years ago for sitting back and being toothless but I think anyone who watched that game could see how we were trying to create,” Gerrard continued. “We pushed and pushed and were unlucky not to get anything out of it.

“The chances were there. Maybe we’ve got to look at trying to finish a few more of them off. But we can’t point any fingers because everyone’s given everything they’ve got tonight.

“The effort and desire was there, we were maybe just missing a bit of quality in the final third.”

The Liverpool midfielder added: “Italy are a good team and we knew how they were going to play and they didn’t surprise us. It’s disappointing because we put so much into it and came away with nothing.”

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