World Cup: England lose 2-1 to Italy

Mario Balotelli scores against England at World Cup

Hodgson insists defeated England 'can still qualify' after defeat in Manaus

LAST UPDATED AT 08:30 ON Sun 15 Jun 2014

Roy Hodgson says he has "great confidence" England will qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup despite their 2-1 defeat to Italy last night.

In the sweltering heat of the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, a header from Mario Balotelli sealed Italy's victory after Daniel Sturridge had equalised Claudio Marchisio's fine strike.

Despite the defeat, England received praise from many commentators for their performance. Liverpool's Raheem Sterling was particularly impressive, proving a lively and threatening presence from the opening seconds of the entertaining tie.

But Wayne Rooney received criticism for his performance, particularly when he spurned a golden opportunity to equalise. However, the controversial star’s defenders will point to the fact he provided the assist for Sturridge’s strike.

Hodgson heaped praise on his young side after the final whistle. "It was undoubtedly the best I have seen us play, as a team, in my time with them," he said. "It's tough to accept we lost. But I've got great confidence we can do well enough in the next games to qualify."

England face Uruguay on Thursday before concluding their Group D campaign against Costa Rica on Tuesday, 24 June. Recent World Cup history suggests England have a mountain to climb to make the next round: just four of 46 sides to lose their opening group game since 1998 have qualified for the knockout stages.

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