Jun 14, 2014 at 11pm UK at ​Arena Amazonia, Manaus
England
1-2
Italy
Sturridge (37')
Sterling (90')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Marchisio (35'), Balotelli (50')

Result: Mario Balotelli goal downs England

England lose their World Cup Group D opener with a 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus.

Mario Balotelli scored the winner as England slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Italy in their World Cup Group D opener in Manaus this morning.

Italy's forward Mario Balotelli heads the ball to score a goal as England's goalkeeper Joe Hart (L) and England's defender Gary Cahill try to defend during a Group D football match between England and Italy at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus during the 2014 © Getty Images

The AC Milan striker proved the difference by nodding home on 50 minutes to narrowly beat a spirited England side.

Already billed as a pivotal clash in the pool, the contest grew in significance prior to kickoff following the news that perceived Group D outsiders Costa Rica had registered a shock 3-1 win over Uruguay.

Wayne Rooney of England reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

It was the Three Lions who looked most intent to capitalise on the Uruguayan's slip-up as Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck both fired narrowly wide for Roy Hodgson's men early on.

Daniel Sturridge came agonisingly close to opening the scoring but the Liverpool man failed to get on the end of Welbeck's excellent low cross.

With Hodgson's side failing to yield tangible reward for their goalmouth dominance, Italy hit them with a sucker-punch on 35 minutes as Claudio Marchisio fired beyond Joe Hart from the edge of the box following Andrea Pirlo's clever dummy.

Claudio Marchisio of Italy celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

England provided an immediate riposte through Sturridge, however, as the striker tapped home a Wayne Rooney cross minutes later to level matters in swift fashion.

In a cruel twist of irony, physio Gary Lewin had to be stretchered away from the dugout after sustaining a dislocated ankle in celebrating the equaliser.

England manager Roy Hodgson speaks to head coach Cesare Prandelli of Italy as England trainer Gary Lewin lies on the ground being treated for an injury during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June© Getty Images

Cesare Prandelli's side threatened to take a half-time lead, as Balotelli saw his clever lob headed off the line by Phil Jagielka, while Antonio Candreva saw an effort come back off the post.

Italy retained that momentum after the interval and took the lead five minutes after the restart, as Balotelli headed home a Candreva cross.

England went in search of another equaliser and should have got one when Leighton Baines found Rooney inside the box, but the Manchester United man failed to break his World Cup duck by dragging an effort wide of the near post.

Pirlo flashed a free kick against the crossbar in the closing stages, but it would not prove to be a decisive moment as Prandelli's side held on to kick off their campaign with a win.

Claudio Marchisio of Italy shoots and scores his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 14, 2014
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