Saturday, 14 June 2014

Brazil WC 2014 - England vs Italy, LIVE COMMENTARY:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post where I have a LIVE Commentary of the final match of Day 3 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where the Three Lions begin their campaign against Euro 2012 runners-up Italy. 

It is currently 10.20pm GMT (in the UK), and despite this unusually late start to the game, England will be hoping that they can take advantage of the earlier result in Group D as Uruguay were shocked with a 3-1 loss against Costa Rica.

Taking the lead: PSG striker Edinson Cavani got his name on the scoresheet from the spot
Stunner: Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell equalised for the underdogs, after Cavani's penalty
Campbell joined Arsenal in 2011 but has been loaned out since, proving himself at the highest level.
Painful to watch: Suarez looks on from the bench as his side go 3-1 down despite taking the lead
Shock victory: Costa Rica applaud their supporters after their victory against the favourites!
There has been a lot of build-up and hype going into the match, which is understandable especially because there is a real sense of belief and hope that this new, younger and more experimental England side can go all the way and finally win their first World Cup tournament since the heroics in 1966. 

Every game in the World Cup is never an easy one, but Italy will pose a real threat to England tonight as both sides are desperate to qualify through to the knock-out rounds, and hopefully go all the way in Brazil this year. 

Before I show you the team line-ups for tonight's game, here is a quick match report from the first match which was played earlier today, between Colombia and Greece in a Group C opener at the Estadio Mineirao - 

The South American side Colombia were comfortable, confident and thoroughly dominant throughout. It looked like a mis-match on paper, and Greece did not offer much in terms of attacking flair during the game, apart from a half-chance from Roma full-back Torosidis where he hit the crossbar with a header.

Goals from Pablo Armero, Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez gave the Colombians all three points, and it was deserved in a match where they proved that they do not rely on talisman striker Falcao for all of their goals.

That was quick: Armero slots the ball into the net to give Colombia an early lead.
Early breakthrough: Colombia celebrate their opener after 5 minutes, courtesy of Armero
Pin-point positioning: Gutierrez was in the right place at the right time to head into the net
Two easy: Gutierrez celebrates his goal to exploit a weak Greek defence after half-time.
Top-class playmaker: James Rodriguez was super for Colombia as they eased past Greece
Talent: James Rodriguez celebrates his late finish to cap off a good Colombian performance
Home advantage: The Colombian fans were loud and proud of their team, who were impressive
An impressive performance to watch, Colombia were powerful going forward with the likes of Zuniga, James Rodriguez, Ibarbo and Cuadrado all running on the counter attack and also solid at the back, never letting you have any space in the final third.

A real shame that AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao is injured, if he wasn't I would have backed Colombia as the dark horses to go far in the tournament. Regardless, the side are very hard to stop and it will be interesting to see how they continue on from their inspiring opening victory against a side that did not really offer much in the match and were weak.

Absence: Colombia were without star man Falcao for the match vs Greece
So without further ado, here are the team line-ups for the match: 

England: Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Rooney, Welbeck and Sturridge.

Subs: Foster, Wilshere, Lampard, Smalling, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Milner, Lambert, Lallana, Barkley, Shaw and Forster.

Italy: Sirigu, Darmian, Paletta, Barzagli, Chiellini, Verratti, Pirlo, De Rossi, Candreva, Balotelli and Marchisio.

Subs: Buffon, De Sciglio, Thiago Motta, Abate, Cassano, Cerci, Aquilani, Immobile, Parolo, Bonucci, Insigne and Perin.

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (from Holland)

22:30 - A lot of media attention going into the game as to whether Sterling or Welbeck would start for England on the wings. Hodgson has picked his side and both forwards are starting. Lallana and Barkley among the substitutes on a strong-looking bench for the Three Lions. Big game for both sides.

22:32 - Two strong sides, looking at Italy's starting line-up they will be playing with a 3-man centre midfield. PSG's young Verratti, Juventus' Pirlo and Roma's De Rossi will be looking to dominate possession, and expect a lot of passing.

The notable absence of Buffon (minor injury) could have a significant impact on how England approach the team, even though Sirigu is a great replacement the team will obviously not be the same without their leader at the back, their captain and 140-capped player. Promises for an intriguing watch. 


Andrea Pirlo - The creator in midfield, the man that has made Italy tick for a very long time and a top player who can spot a pass from 60 yards and can score from anywhere. Unpredictable, consistently at his best and hard to mark.

Mario Balotelli - If he's at his best, you'll struggle to contain him. Pace, power, strength and good balance, as well as finishing and confidence. Balotelli has it all, and defenders are in for a nightmare 90 minutes against him if he turns up. 

There are questions over the 23-year-old's temperament and if he is not in a good mood, his attitude may take over and cause him to make mistakes when he would otherwise not, but more often than not he causes problems for the defence and has a deadly shot. Unpredictable, a great quality to have. 

Raheem Sterling - The young Liverpool winger WILL start tonight, and despite the fact that I would have expected him to come on as the game continued (so he could exploit the spaces at the back).

He has pace, close-control dribbling and an eye for goal, his movement and ability to seek out team-mates is superb. His involvement in Liverpool's season was central to their success, and he will be important going forward for England tonight.

Daniel Sturridge - Another Liverpool player, this time centre forward Sturridge. Pace, great dribbling and has the desire to run past defenders with ease, a quick change of pace and he's away from his marker without you noticing.

Suarez had a pivotal role in LFC's season this year, but Sturridge has to be given huge credit and recognition for his best season. Finishing, flair and the complete striker, he'll be important for England, that's for sure. 

22:53 - The teams are waiting patiently in the tunnel, as the referee walks out and grabs the Brazuca ball on his way out. Less than 10 minutes to go, and even though expectations are supposedly low, everyone is hoping for an England win. 

22:56 - The two national anthems being observed well by both sets of supporters, ahead of a tense match.

22:59 - The referee looks around him as Italy are ready to kick-off in Manaus. Big 90 minutes ahead. 

23:00 - The referee blows his whistle for the first time of the game, a loud round of applause from the supporters in the ground, they appreciate the importance of this match.

1: One minute gone and Balotelli's already charging towards the England defence, but the danger is dealt with well by Chelsea defender Gary Cahill and the former Manchester City striker tracks back into midfield. 

Free-kick given away by Glen Johnson, as he trips Chiellini in the Italian half. Mis-timed tackle by the Liverpool full-back.

2: Italy keep the pressure up on their opponents as full-back Matteo Darmian gets forward and gets a low cross into the box, which is partially cleared away by Everton defender Phil Jagielka.

3: CLOSE! Sterling gets his first chance to run at the Italian defence and weaves past two markers before setting up for a drive from 30 yards out, the ball powerfully swerves and hits the net, but it's the side netting! Looked like it was in by the Liverpool teenager...

Optical illusion: Sterling's shot appeared to hit the back of the net, but it hit the side-netting
5: SAVED! Sirigu does well to deny England from going ahead after a low hit from Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson fires past the near post and the PSG goalkeeper has to dive to his low left to react quickly enough and parry the danger.

7: An end-to-end match so far, not even 10 minutes gone. Pirlo has a penalty appeal waved play on by the referee, after the ball hits Johnson's arm in the box before a half-chance bobbles off the pitch and goes out for an England goal-kick.

Both teams look dangerous on the counter attack.

9: Good catch by Sirigu to react quickly after a delivery into the box by Johnson towards the head of Welbeck is dealt with. Both sides are pressurizing each other, impressive start to the game for the neutral. 

10: England desperate to win possession back as soon as they lose the ball, they know it is important that they don't allow Italy to have space otherwise they will pass them off the pitch.

11: CHANCE! Italy very nearly caught out after a poor pass by Parma defender Paletta falls to Welbeck, he hits the ball first time but the effort from the Manchester United striker goes wide of the post. 

12: Candreva with a cross after some patient build-up play from the Italians, caught comfortably by goalkeeper Joe Hart.

15: Some more patient build-play from Italy, looking for space to pass the ball into. England are pressing well but giving them time.

17: England free-kick near the centre-circle as Verratti is adjudged to have fouled Sterling, in an off-the-ball challenge. The young PSG midfielder protests his innocence to the referee, who ignores him and points for a free-kick.

18: Half-chance for Italy, as Candreva takes a swerving effort from 25 yards out which flies towards Hart at a considerable speed. The City goalkeeper manages to deal with it, parrying it away from his body. 

21: Balotelli has a snapshot from 20 yards out out of nothing, but his effort flies over the goal and does not trouble  his former team-mate's goal. 

23: CLOSE! Sterling does well to run past his marker near the touchline and deliver a low cross into the box, but Welbeck fails to reach the ball in time and Italy partially clear out for a corner.

24: Corner comes of nothing as Sirigu comes out and collects the ball, clearing the danger.

25: Quick free-kick taken by England after a pass from Rooney falls to Sterling, who is taken down by full-back Damian.

26: Italy have dominated possession so far in the match, England have had one more shot than the Italians (4) but both have had one effort on target each.

27: Rooney looks uncomfortable and isolated on the flank, perhaps he should change position with Welbeck. 

29: The Italians have started to drop off now, perhaps taking a breather. Remember, the match is being played in Brazil on a hot, humid evening with a chance of rain present later on. Physically demanding on the players.

30: Half-an-hour played in Manaus, still goal-less despite an entertaining watch.

31: England win a free-kick after Rooney is fouled by de Rossi from around 40 yards out.

The Manchester United playmaker argues to the referee that it was a two-footed tackle which could have been dangerous, despite clear intent by the Roma player to win the ball. 

32: The resulting free-kick is taken by Gerrard, who crosses the ball into the box but no England players are near the delivery and Sirigu comfortably catches it. 

33: A half-chance from Italy almost leads to a chance, but the recovery from Cahill and Jagielka boxes Balotelli in. 

34: Italy have a corner. Short-pass, a cute lay-off by Pirlo to get the ball through his legs and club team-mate Claudio Marchisio shapes to shoot..... 

WHAT A GOAL!!!!! Well-worked goal, great finish by the Juventus midfielder and England are behind. Hart was helpless to stop the strike, 20-yard bullet into the bottom corner of the net!

Super: Juventus midfielder Marchisio breaks the deadlock after 34 minutes from a set-piece.
Italian players and subs celebrate with Marchisio after his super opener from a set-piece
37: GOAL!!!! England with an instant response, 1-1! Rooney picks up the ball on the edge of the area and crosses into the box, Sturridge spots the delivery and connects sweetly with the ball to tap past Sirigu, who could only watch in shock.

Tidy finish: Sturridge kept his cool to convert inside the area from Rooney's cross
Instant response: Sturridge celebrates his third goal in his last four appearances for England
38: The restart is slightly delayed as the England physio Gary Lewin has seriously injured his ankle after celebrating the equaliser. Sad sight.

Physio Gary Lewin injured his ankle during the England celebrations after Sturridge's goal
39: The game has been brought to life once again! Italy break the deadlock, and then England surprise with an instant response. Great game so far, 1-1 and the game has stepped up a gear now.

45: The fourth official has signalled for 2 minutes of stoppage time after an enthralling first 45 of play.

45+1: CHANCE! Balotelli proves his ability to create a chance out of nothing as he latches onto a deep cross before chipping Hart off his line. Jagielka reacts quickest to head the ball away from danger off the line, and Italy have a corner.

Everton defender Phil Jagielka reacts well and heads Balotelli's effort off-the-line
45+2: The corner almost ends up with a goal - as Candreva has a shot hit the post, before Verratti and Sterling go at each other again and the referee blows his whistle for half-time.

Great game so far, hopefully the tempo continues in the same way that the first-half has. England 1, Italy 1.

00:00 - It has been confirmed that physio Gary Lewin has disclocated his ankle after the celebrations. Hoping for a speedy recovery, so he can still play some part in this campaign.

00:03 - The teams are jogging back onto the pitch, getting ready for the start of the second-half. 

Italy look dangerous when they have possession of the ball, England look dangerous with pace on the counter attack. The standout performer for England at the moment would have to be Sterling, he's done his job so far.

45: England restart, Rooney shifts onto the right flank.

49: GOAL! Great finish by Italy again, this time from former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli. 

Candreva gets past Leighton Baines on the flank before crossing in a perfect delivery to the back post where Balotelli lurks in-behind Cahill and heads the ball past Hart into the net. 2-1, and England have to comeback again!

Power header: Balotelli gave Italy the lead again with a header from Candreva's cross.
2-1: Balotelli's clinical nature leaves England in tatters with a great header at the far post
53: Promising counter attack from England, this time Rooney is involved. On the right flank, he runs with a short burst of pace before having an ambitious effort from 25 yards out trickle past Sirigu past the post. 

54: You can tell that England have upped the ante again now, they are trailing and they are desperate to get back into the game. 2-1 down, but the game is certainly not over yet. 

55: Quiet appeals of a penalty from England - Paletta appeared to have shoulder barged Gerrard off the ball in the area and the ball trickles out for a goal-kick. 

No appeal: Replays showed that there was contact by Paletta as he appeared to push Gerrard
The Liverpool and England captain does not appeal for the penalty and the referee ignores the claims, although the replays show that there was clear contact with Paletta. Arguable.

56: Italy SUB:
Marco Verratti OFF
Thiago Motta ON

Motta comes on for some fresh legs, the young Verratti has played well but a tactical change sees the experienced defensive midfielder slot into his club team-mate's position in a like-for-like substitution. 

57: Cameras show that Everton's creative midfielder Ross Barkley is warming up to come onto the pitch, he looks hungry to prove his point. 

60: And here is the confirmation of the substitution - 
England SUB:
Daniel Sturridge OFF
Ross Barkley ON

Barkley's chance to shine. 30 minutes left plus stoppages. 

62: CHANCE! Rooney has a half-chance but it goes amiss as Sirigu struggles to position himself properly and react quickly enough. Probably should have scored there.

64: CLOSE! Barkley is directly involved with the play, wins the ball on the flank and drives forward before having a strike towards goal from just inside the box parried away by the outstretched arms of Sirigu, who did well to deal with the Everton youngster's effort. 

65: Doesn't look good for Sterling - he looks in some serious discomfort on the turf after a tangle near the touchline. Good sportsmanship by Chiellini and Marchisio to help treat the youngster while the referee walks over to the Liverpool winger before asking for the physio to come on and treat him.

67: Encouraging scenes, Sterling looks to be able to continue after treatment from the physio on the touchline.

68: Another half-chance, this time from Italy. Candreva drives at the England defence and unleashes an ambitious strike from 20 yards out at an awkward angle.

The ball flashes past Hart and hits the side netting. Unlucky, just shows how quickly Italy can counter attack and hit you when you least expect it.

70: Two corners in quick succession for England, the latter almost ends in a 25-yard screamer from full-back Glen Johnson. Sirigu was rooted to the spot and would have been helpless to react if Johnson's shot was on-target.

73: England SUB:
Jordan Henderson OFF
Jack Wilshere ON

Italy SUB:
Mario Balotelli OFF
Ciro Immobile ON

Wilshere replaces the tired Henderson, fresh legs for England. No need for two defensive-minded midfielders, Wilshere on for the last twenty minutes or so to get forward and try to push for another equaliser.

Italy make a change of their own also, an attacking one; goalscorer Balotelli is being replaced by newly-announced Dortmund striker Immobile, who was the top scorer in the Serie A this season.

77: A free-kick in a dangerous position is parried away by Sirigu after Baines' effort beats the wall and tests the PSG stopper. Time is running out though now. 

78: Hodgson is not the kind of man to sit and do nothing, here are subsitutions from both sides - 
England SUB:
Daniel Sturridge OFF
Adam Lallana ON

Sturridge looks to be struggling with an injury of some sort, a knock and is limping gingerly so is replaced, by Southampton midfielder Lallana for the last 10 minutes or so.

Italy SUB:
Antonio Candreva OFF
Marco Parolo ON

One of the best players on the pitch tonight for me is being replaced, Candreva has been impressive on the flank and got forward well. Parolo replaces him, despite a lack of international experience.

82: Less than 10 minutes to go now, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill is limping with cramp and is being encouraging to continue by goalkeeper Joe Hart.

84: Lallana wins a free-kick on the edge of the area in a dangerous position after getting bodychecked by de Rossi. 

85: Gerrard steps up to take the set-piece, and his effort curls over the wall and the bar, despite Sirigu diving high to try and parry the shot.

86: Another missed chance from England, this time from Rooney who takes the ball from an approaching Lallana and lashes at the shot without looking up - the ball flies over the bar as the England supporters groan with frustration.

88: England keep up the pressure on Italy by winning a corner, which Italy deal with well to clear away partially. England push men forward into the box, they know they need to score and score soon unless they are looking at an opening defeat tonight.

89: Sterling has an effort wide, despite hinting that he was tripped as he took the shot. Italian goal-kick to come, and Sirigu will take his time with this.

90: Cameras are now showing the glum faces of England supporters around the ground; they are disappointed that their team are losing, having played with potential especially in the first-half.

The fourth official has signalled for 5 minutes of stoppage time, a life-line for England maybe?

90+1: The first yellow card of the night goes to Sterling, after a cynical chop on an approaching Parolo from a nicely-weighted through ball from Pirlo. 

90+2: Italy have a free-kick from 30 yards out, Pirlo is standing over it and he is a specialist at set-pieces.. what can he do now?

90+3: OFF THE BAR! The experienced Juventus midfielder hits the ball with the outside of his boot and the effort swerves in the air, beats Hart and hits the crossbar before going out for a goal-kick. Would have been the icing on the cake in a good display from the Italians.

90+4: Great defensive tracking back by Gary Cahill who covers the impending danger from the approaching Immobile on the counter attack. Doesn't take away from the result - England are just seconds away from losing the game. 

90+5: And.. the referee blows his whistle for the last time! Italy win in arguably the most important match of Group D, an entertaining match to watch. 

Italy fully deserved to win the match to be fair to them, they had a set game plan and stuck to it throughout. Dominated possession, passed the ball very well and ultimately won an entertaining match.

They invited pressure and went on the counter attack to score, finding space to beat their markers.

England were dangerous on the counter attack and can take some positives out of the game, but a defeat is still a defeat and they will have to react positively to losing tonight, otherwise there is a real possiblity that they could struggle to even get out of the group. 

Here is the Group D table at the moment - 
1st place - Costa Rica with 3pts
2nd place - Italy with 3pts
3rd place - England with 0pts
4th place - Uruguay with 0pts

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