Italy recorded a somewhat fortunate win over an England side who dominated much of the play but ultimately came up short.
Cesare Prandelli’s side took the lead ten minutes before half time after some poor England positioning when defending a corner. White shirts crowded the box but Claudio Marchisio received the ball outside the area and plenty of time and acres of space to set himself and fire at goal. Joe Hart had no chance.
England were not behind for long however, Wayne Rooney playing in what seems to be his new position for the Three Lions, whipped in a ball on the left hand side that Daniel Sturridge tucked home from close range two minutes later.
The Azzuri regained the lead five minutes into the second half thanks to Mario Balotelli’s close range header from Antonio Candreva’s cross. Candreva darting past Leighton Baines and floating in a delivery that went over Gary Cahill and into the path of Balotelli who couldn’t really miss.
Raheem Sterling looked to have gave England the lead after just four minutes when his drive from distance rippled the net, the side netting though, disappointing many an England fan who thought they were in front.
Jordan Henderson wasn’t far away either, a swerving shot from him was palmed away well by Italy’s stand in goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
Italy hit back with first Daniele De Rossi warming Hart’s gloves with a stinging shot that was fumbled and then Balotelli curled a shot over from far out.
A minute later and England came close again, Danny Welbeck on the right squaring the ball across goal but Andrea Barzagli slid in just before Sturridge and Italy re grouped for a corner.
Phil Jagielka saved England just before the break when Balotelli lobbed an out of position Hart but the Everton defender was there to clear it off the line. Just after that Candreva cut inside and rattled the post but England survived.
England also had a penalty claim when Welbeck was sandwiched between two Italy defenders as he attempted to reach a Sterling ball across goal.
Rooney was more of a shooting threat in the second half as he was moved into his favoured central role, first shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the area and soon after cutting inside a defender and firing wide again, should have really scored.
Ross Barkley was introduced for Welbeck with twenty five minutes left and made an immediate impact, bursting down the left, turning inside an Italian defender and having a shot palmed away by Sirigu.
Inside the last twenty minutes Glen Johnson decided to try his luck after receiving the ball from a short corner but his strike whistled wide.
England had a few last throws of the dice with free kicks from Steven Gerrard and Baines but there was no David Beckham esque moment vs Greece. Andrea Pirlo almost scored one for Italy though, smacking the bar from distance and Italy held on for the win.