Video courtesy of World Cup 2014 Brazil Football
Downing a team with the pedigree of Italy was always going to be a big ask for England in their opening match of the World Cup, so there was little surprise when the Azzurri ran out 2-1 winners to take a massive step towards qualifying for the knockout stages.
Surprisingly, Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson named a rather progressive line-up with five Liverpool players — including youngster Raheem Sterling — named in the starting eleven. After Claudio Marchisio’s strike handed Cesare Prandelli’s men a well deserved lead late in the first half, you wouldn’t of been remiss to think that was very well that — until Sterling got ahold of the ball that is.
An immediate response was exactly what was needed and that’s exactly what the youngster provided as he played the perfect through-ball to set Wayne Rooney flying out wide. With the Italian defence sprung and Daniel Sturridge joining the attack, the much maligned Manchester United man whipped in a picture perfect cross for the Reds striker to smash home first time to level proceedings.
A header from former Manchester City striker and perennial tabloid fodder Mario Balotelli may have sealed the deal for Italy, but Liverpool fans will be delighted with the way their boys performed tonight. Sterling was hands down the best player on the pitch, Sturridge has continued his immense scoring run, Henderson and Gerrard were both involved and assured on the ball and even Johnson gave their favoured opponents a problem or two.
No injuries and another step closer to the majority of our players returning to Melwood? In a lot of ways, that’s a job well done.