Italians edge England in World Cup

MANAUS, Brazil — Italy turned out a professional performance at the Arena Amazonia on Saturday to get a 2-1 victory over England.

Claudio Marchisio’s 35th-minute strike was canceled out by England’s Daniel Sturridge within two minutes, but Mario Balotelli notched the go-ahead goal five minutes into the second half to restore the lead.

The Italians maintained a compact formation for the remainder of the match to deny the Three Lions many clear-cut scoring opportunities, riding Balotelli’s game-winner to all three points.

“Our approach was clear: we don’t have explosive players like England do. With that in mind, our aim was to make the most of our technical ability,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said after the match. “In the first half we had control of the game and on several occasions were able to get the ball to our attacking players between the two defensive lines. Of course we have good alternatives that can help us change our way of playing but, in general, that’s our philosophy.”

Ivory Coast 2, Japan 1

RECIFE, Brazil — The Ivory Coast scored two second-half goals in quick succession to come from behind in a defeat of Japan at the Arena Pernambuco on Saturday in Group C play.

It was a tale of two halves as Japan controlled much of the early going, grabbing the lead after only 16 minutes.

Keisuke Honda produced the opening goal, taking a pass from Yuto Nagatomo and using one touch to settle before lashing a left-footed shot into the upper corner from the top of the box.

The Ivory Coast struggled to get going in the first half, but a rejuvenated side emerged from the halftime break.

Veteran striker Didier Drogba entered the match in the 62nd minute and helped make an immediate impact by adding some guile to the Ivory Coast attack.

Drogba did not get on the scoresheet, but he managed to occupy spaces to put his teammates in more dangerous positions.

And within two minutes of Drogba’s introduction, the Elephants got on level terms as Wilfried Bony got on the end of Serge Aurier’s cross and sent a glancing header past Eiji Kawashima at the far post.

Costa Rica 3, Uruguay 1

FORTALEZA — Costa Rica pulled off a shock result at the Estadio Castelao on Saturday, coming from behind to get a win over Uruguay to upset the balance in Group D.

Uruguay, a strong pre-tournament favorite to advance to the knockout round, grabbed the lead after 23 minutes thanks to Edinson Cavani’s penalty kick.

But the second half belonged to Los Ticos as goals from Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte and Marco Urena turned the match in Costa Rica’s favor.

Colombia 3, Greece 0

BELO HORIZONTE — Colombia made a promising start to its World Cup campaign on Saturday, cruising to a 3-0 defeat of Greece at the Estadio Mineirao.

Pablo Armero helped the Colombians jump out in front with a goal in the sixth minute while goals from Teo Gutierrez in the 58th minute and James Rodriguez in the third minute of stoppage time sealed all three points.

The result gives the South American country a solid foundation to take an early lead in Group C.

“This is a fantastic result for the whole of Colombia because there was a lot of emotion among the fans today,” head coach Jose Pekerman said. “Nothing’s decided yet, but we went about our task in the right way today.”

Colombia’s dominant performance began with an early strike as Juan Cuadrado squared pass for Armero to lash a shot on target. The shot took a slight deflection to trickle just inside the post as goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis failed to keep it out.


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