Balotelli beats England as Costa Rica stun Uruguay

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jun 15, 2021
  • Marco Parolo of Italy and Glen Johnson of England battle for the ball in a Group D match which Italy won 2-1. (Photo Courtesy Fifa)

Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli scored one goal each as Italy beat England 2-1 in a Group D match at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Daniel Sturridge scored the equaliser before Balotelli struck the winner.

England began brightly, looking to improve on a record of just one competitive win over GliAzzurri, as Raheem Sterling rippled the side-netting from range with a rasping effort, before Jordan Henderson forced Salvatore Sirigu into a low save inside the first five minutes.

Antonio Candreva gave Joe Hart a similar test at the other end, but his left-footed strike was dealt with - albeit uncomfortably - by the Manchester City goalkeeper.

England continued to look the more threatening though, with Daniele De Rossi going agonisingly close to turning into his own net, diverting Danny Welbeck's cross away from Sturridge and just beyond the far post.

While clear-cut chances were hard to come by, Italy's midfield still looked capable of carving out opportunities, and it was a routine from the training ground that exposed England.

A short corner was cut back towards the edge of area and, when Andrea Pirlo dummied superbly, Marchisio had time and space to sweetly fire into the bottom corner.

The Three Lions were behind for just two minutes, however, as Wayne Rooney broke well down the left wing, finding the unmarked Sturridge at the far post who just had to side-foot past Sirigu.

Italy were almost back in front on the stroke of half-time though, with Mario Balotelli almost scoring a spectacular lob from the left side of the area which had to be cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka.

Candreva then rattled the post from the resulting corner. Sirigu was the first goalkeeper forced into action after the break, with a purposeful run from Sturridge ending in a low effort, but Italy retook the lead as Balotelli rose at the back post to meet Candreva's in-swinging cross to beat former City team-mate Hart.

England looked dangerous though, with Rooney, Sterling and Sturridge all combining well, with the latter keen to test Sirigu at every opportunity.

Rooney fired narrowly wide of the post after evading the offside trap, before substitute Ross Barkley tested the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper as Roy Hodgson's side searched for an equaliser.

While England pressed as players progressively tired in the Manaus heat, but Italy came closest to scoring again as a Pirlo free-kick smacked the bar in the final moments.

Costa Rica 3 Uruguay 1

Costa Rica stunned Uruguay with two quick-fire goals en route to a 3-1 comeback victory.

Edinson Cavani had given the South Americans the lead from the penalty spot, but Joel Campbell and Oscar Duarte struck with minutes of one another before Marco Urena rounded off an unexpected win.

With Oscar Tabarez's side not having won their opening game since 1970, and Los Ticosstarting out on a five-game World Cup winless streak, there was every chance a run would be broken in Fortaleza.

The fans who had hopped on the six-hour flight from Montevideo were not left waiting much longer, as captain Diego Lugano was hauled down by Junior Diaz in the area, leaving Cavani to slot home from 12 yards.

Costa Rica had not beaten Uruguay in eight attempts.

Jorge Luis Pinto, Costa Rica coach paid tribute to his players after rallying to beat Uruguay 3-1. “We are happy and I want to congratulate the team for the attitude they showed. The players kept their heads after Uruguay scored.

They were composed, stuck to their game and played with a lot of heart. It’s an important win for us and it gives us hope, though we haven’t won anything yet.”

His opposite number, Oscar Washington Tabarez of Uruguay agreed: I don’t know what Costa Rica’s limit is, but today they played well. They were tactically better than us, which reflects well on their coach and players.

When they took the lead, they gave us space and let us play where we couldn’t do them any harm. Now we’re going to try and get back on track against England."

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