“We hoped for a perfect start but don't live in a perfect world. In the second half, we did everything but score.”
Italy opened their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign with a hard fought 2-1 win over England at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus on 14 June, 2014. Super Mario Balotelli scored the winning goal for the Azzurri in the heavyweight clash.
Costa Rica pulled off the first upset of the tournament by defeating Uruguay 3-1 in Fortaleza. Joel Campbell, Óscar Duarte and Marco Ureña were on the scoresheet for the Costa Ricans.
Colombia beat Greece 3-0 in Group C with goals from Pablo Armero, Teófilo Gutiérrez and James Rodríguez.
In Group B, Chile sealed a 3-1 triumph against Australia 3-1 with goals from Alexis Sánchez, Jorge Valdívia, and Jean Beausejour.
Group B: Chile 3 Australia 1 – 11pm (BST) KO, Arena Pantanal, Cuiba – Friday
Chile and Australia began their World Cup campaign at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba in the early evening of 13 June, 2014. Australia entered as the lowest ranked team in the competition.
This was the second Group B match following the Netherlands 5-1 capitulation of reigning world champions Spain earlier in the day.
Two quick goals from Alexis Sánchez and Jorge Valdívia gave Chile a 2-0 lead inside fifteen minutes. Former Everton star Tim Cahill playing his 3rd World Cup pulled one back for the Aussies ten minutes before the break to get them back in the game.
The second half saw decent possession for both teams with Australia growing in confidence, but unable to find a way through. Premiership player Jean Beausejour wrapped up the game for Chile in injury time with an impressive effort from range as the match ended 3-1 to Chile.
Despite the two goal difference, it still left the mighty Spaniards rooted to the bottom of the group after the first round of games.
Group C: Colombia 3 Greece 0 – 5pm (BST) KO, Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte – Saturday
Colombia did not have to travel far for the World Cup, and that was evident with their mass following of fans at the Estádio Mineirão for this Group C encounter.
Colombia’s star striker Falcao’s absence due to injury was quickly forgotten as West Ham United’s Pablo Armero stunned the Greeks, putting the South Americans 1-0 up in the fifth minute.
Greece had to change tactics almost immediately to go in search of an equaliser, but neither side could manage anything until the break.
The second half started with the Colombians attacking well. Their efforts bore fruition as Teófilo Gutiérrez added a 2nd Colombian goal shortly before the hour mark.
Apart from hitting the crossbar, Greece were unable to threat in the game. An injury time goal from James Rodríguez ensured a 3-0 win for Colombia as they moved to the top of Group C.
Group D: Uruguay 1 Costa Rica 3 – 8pm (BST) KO, Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza – Saturday
Two time World Cup champions, Uruguay finished with ten men as they suffered a shock 3-1 loss to Costa Rica in Group C.
The match started relatively quietly before an Edinson Cavani penalty gave Uruguay a 1-0 lead at half time. Costa Rica were relieved to still be in the match as Uruguay could have got a more goals.
The second half was a complete contrast to the first. Uruguay were stunned as Costa Rica pulled a goal back nine minutes into the half through Joel Campbell. Costa Rica then surprisingly took the lead two minutes later through Óscar Duarte.
Marcos Ureña notched up Costa Rica’s 3rd in the 84th minute to leave the Uruguayan camp shell shocked.
Group D: England 1 Italy 2 – 11pm (BST) KO, Arena Amazonia, Manaus – Saturday
Four time World Cup champions Italy beat 1966 champions England 2-1 with goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli.
Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluci Buffon was ruled out of the match after spraining his ankle during training.
The Italians had registered their disapproval of the pitch a day before kick-off, even though the green painted grass made the turf falsely look in pristine condition. England were not impressed with it either, but chose to get on with it.
British Asian Radio presenter and Liverpool fan, Noreen Khan excitingly tweeted before the match saying:
“I’m watching the match in my hometown of Bedford tonight, the town with the highest number of Italians in the UK!”
With England going in with five players from Anfield, a fan from India tweeted: “So proud to see so many Liverpool players representing the national team.”
England started well, as they dictated play and created decent half chances. Raheem Sterling in particular was playing a stellar role for England.
However, Andrea Pirlo orchestrated an Italian job as he worked a dummy move, which saw Claudio Marchisio give them the lead against the run of play ten minutes before half time.
England had other ideas though as Wayne Rooney beautifully crossed for Daniel Sturridge to neatly equalise two minutes later.
The half time break gave both teams a chance to re-assess their tactics. Despite more England dominance in the second half, it was former Premier league man Mario Balotelli that headed Italy back into the lead five minutes into the second half. In spite of more England pressure, Italy held onto a 2-1 World Cup opening win.
England boss Roy Hodgson said at full time: “We hoped for a perfect start but don’t live in a perfect world. In the second half, we did everything but score.”
England play Uruguay in their second Group D match in Sau Paulo on 19 June 2014, with both sides desperately needing a win to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Who will win the World Cup 2014?
- Brazil (23%)
- Germany (21%)
- Argentina (15%)
- Portugal (11%)
- Other (11%)
- Italy (6%)
- Netherlands (6%)
- Belgium (4%)
- England (2%)
- Spain (0%)
- Uruguay (0%)