England began their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 loss against Italy with Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge scoring England’s only goal.

The Three Lions went behind after Marchisio fired a low, long range shot from outside the box. England responded immediately as Raheem Sterling sent an exquisite ball in Wayne Rooney’s direction who then crossed it to Daniel Sturridge who didn’t miss the target. There was a considerable lull in the match thereafter but Italy restored their lead in the second half as Mario Balotelli headed home the winner from a good cross by in-form man Antonio Candreva.

Roy Hodgson was happy with his side’s performance and felt that the eventual scoreline was not entirely reflective of the match.

“It is a bit tough to accept we lost the game. Joe Hart has had a pretty quiet evening but we found ourselves having lost it. Even when they got back to 2-1 I thought we would get back into it. I thought that was the best I’d seen the team play”, said the England boss

“I suppose you have to bite the bullet today and accept we played well.

“I thought we came to terms with it much better in the second half. We are a positive team who do not sit back and we left one or two opportunities for them, but we had chances to score. Our final ball was disappointing and we are better than that, but we are a young team and this is a first World Cup for two thirds of the team and it is something we will improve upon going forward.

“It isn’t a perfect start, but we don’t live in a perfect world. To take them so close gives us great confidence playing against Uruguay and Costa Rica.”

Captain Steven Gerrard also said that he was disappointed with England taking nothing out of the match.

“Italy are a good team,” he told the BBC. “We knew how they were going to play and they never surprised us really but it’s disappointing because we put so much into it and we’ve come away with nothing.”

Wayne Rooney was surprisingly very quiet the whole night and perhaps his only productive moment was his assisting cross to Daniel Sturridge. The Manchester United striker got a lot of criticism for his weak and uninspiring display. But the English boss did not agree.

I think it is harsh to say he didn’t look comfortable on the left. I thought he did quite well and he set up our goal,” said Hodgson.

“It is looking for things to say he didn’t play well in that position because I think he did.”

Hodgson added that he was proud of his side’s display and talked about the importance of winning against Uruguay on Thursday, especially since they lost their opening game to Costa Rica

“None of those players let me down or let the country down today. They all did what they hoped we would do except score that equalising goal.”

 “If you lose the first game you’ve got to win the next two. There’s no way you can drift to qualification. Italy and Costa Rica have got the very best start and we and Uruguay are on the back foot.

“We all need time to digest what happened. My gut feeling is that we did some very good things. There were some good individual performances as well.

“However hard we tried we couldn’t produce the necessary quality. On another occasion one of those shots or crosses would have worked for us.”

He added: “The main positive I can take is that it’s the best I have seen the team play in my time with them. It’s good to know we have so many players who will make us a good team going forward.”